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Recreation district gains 28-acre parcel

Board votes 3-2 to accept Shockley property donation
By: Michelle Miller-Carl, Journal News Editor
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The Auburn Recreation District has agreed to accept a land donation, although some officials wonder whether the financially strapped district can afford to maintain it. The Auburn Recreation District board of directors voted to accept a donation of 28-acre Shockley property off Shockley Road near Auburn Ravine Road at its meeting Thursday. The board was split 3-2 in favor of accepting the donation. “My emotions were I couldn’t believe the staff was advising not to accept it. It just amazed me that anybody would not accept it,” said Director Gordon Ainsleigh, who voted in favor of acquiring the land, along with directors Jim Gray and Jim Ferris. Ainsleigh said that to a housing developer, the land would easily be worth $10 million. Although ARD doesn’t have the money to develop the land now, Ainsleigh said that was no reason to turn down the donation. “Everybody who was urging us not to accept it was not looking at all into the future,” he said. “We don’t have a sense of what to do with it, and there’s no money, but our legal counsel said we don’t have to do anything with it, we can put it in the bank.” Staff recommended not to accept the donation in light of annual maintenance costs of up to $18,900. Directors Scott Holbrook and Curt Smith voted against accepting the land. “I just love the piece of property, I think it’s beautiful, but I don’t think the acquisition of the property is in the best interest of the district,” Holbrook said. “I joined with staff (because of) the burden put on the district by accepting this property. It did not have the best cost/benefit ratio for the district.” Holbrook said annual maintenance costs would take away from other ARD activities. Now that the property has been accepted, Holbrook said his goal is to the maximize its use through added parking and restrooms. The land was donated by the William B. Shockley and Emmy L. Shockley trust along with $50,000 to be used to establish the property for “passive” use, which would not impact the natural setting. William B. Shockley, who died in 1989, shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of the transistor. Shockley’s attempts to commercialize a new transistor furthered the start of “Silicon Valley,” according to Wikipedia.org. In other action Thursday, the board: — Presented Brad Kearns with the Volunteer of the Month award for his contributions to the ARD-YDL Youth Basketball program. Kearns coached three teams in this year’s league and acted as a league representative for the Skyridge area. — Awarded ARD Facility Attendant/Lifeguard Kyann Waskowiak with the ARD Employee of the Month award for March. Waskowiak stepped up during the month and assisted with two youth basketball programs, saving the district time and money. — Heard a presentation on an updated 5-year Capital Improvement Project List. The board rejected the proposed project list and requested that the it be reviewed and revised at the committee level and come back to the board in March. — Voted 4 – 1 to approve a $66,338 contract with J.D. Pasquetti for the expansion of the parking lot at Railhead Park. Construction work on the expansion, which will add 30 parking spots, will begin in late April/early May. — Voted unanimously to adopt a resolution for funding for an Urban Forestry Grant program. This grant, funded through Propositions 40 and 84, will assist the district in purchasing and planting 219 trees, both native and non-native. The $40,000 matching grant is funded 75 percent by the state with a 25 percent match from ARD. These trees will be planted in nine of the district’s parks. Pamela Vann, ARD landscape architect and grant author, commented “this grant is a wonderful opportunity for ARD to include new trees in the parks, providing shade and enhancing the parks visual qualities for generations to come.” — Approved seeking a more detailed legal opinion on the subject of park development impact fees.