Wednesday, January 05, 2011

ARPPS Supports Ose Proposal for Gibson Ranch

The ARPPS Board of Directors voted to approve the Ose proposal for Gibson Ranch at our meeting of 1/3/11.

In The Sunday, December 26, 2010 issue of the New York Times, we are informed that:

“Versailles, one of the most visited monuments in the world, will soon be able to offer tourists a place to rest for the night…

“The Hotel du Grand Controle, an annex building on the edge of the Versailles estate, will be transformed into a 23-room hotel, administrators of the publicly owned palace announced recently.

“The restoration and modernization of the 17th-century building will be overseen by a Belgian company called Ivy International, which has taken out a 30-year lease on the property. The project is a rare transfer of control of a French public heritage site to the private sector.

“It’s a pioneer initiative,” Jean Jacques Aillagon, the chairman of the Versailles palace, said in a news conference in Paris. “The building was given to us in a dilapidated state; my concern was to save it.” (page TR. 2, highlighting added)

Saving shuttered Gibson Ranch from further dilapidation and whether the County should approve management by a forprofit entity led by former Congressman Doug Ose is the issue.

It is an issue which has been of interest to our organization as it addresses much of what we have also found lacking in local government management of the American River Parkway.

Our organization has long called for the use of innovative funding and management practices for the Parkway that are being used successfully with other parks and the concepts embedded in the Ose proposal are congruent with those practices.

When the board of supervisors agreed to study the privatization proposal in November of 2010, the opposition—County Parks and aligned nonprofits—appeared to build their case primarily from the damage it might do to their in-house regional park proposal, which would increase taxes, while the Ose proposal would save taxpayers money.

The proposal to open the Ranch to the public under a lease management agreement comes from a family with a long-established record of public service and philanthropy, is supported by many locally, and is aligned with standard lease management agreements involving some form of privatization.

Given that, the opposition—especially that voiced in the editorial pages of the Sacramento Bee —seemed overwrought.

We were very pleased when the county agreed to move forward in their consideration of the plan to turn over management of the park to a forprofit entity.

With final approval, which we wholeheartedly support, it will be refreshing to see innovation and creativity become part of the mix of local parks management which, if it is as successful as we anticipate, may also impact future decisions regarding the American River Parkway.

If it’s good enough for Versailles, it’s good enough for Gibson Ranch!