Claremont Insider: Johnson's Pasture Deal Finalized

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Johnson's Pasture Deal Finalized

Good news to those who worked on getting the public funding for the purchase of Johnson's Pasture. The Claremont City Council last night announced that the owners of Johnson's Pasture had at long last agreed to the lower price of $11.5 million. As we reported three days ago, the owners had been stuck on the old price of $12 million, which was based on a faulty appraisal.

The purchase allows the city to add 180 acres to the 1,589-acre Claremont Wilderness Park. As the city's press release states, the lower price now makes the city eligible for a $1 million dollar grant from the State of California. The city also received a $500,000 grant from Los Angeles County and $250,000 from the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy. The grant money lowers the cost to Claremonters to $10.2 million, including the costs of issuing the bonds.

The Claremont Colleges, which as nonprofit entities were not subject to being taxed under the Johnson's Pasture bond measure, voluntarily pledged to pay what they would have had they been subject to taxing for the bond. This extra money will be used to further lower the costs to the public by paying down the bonds earlier.

Congratulations to all who worked on this. Recall that the Johnson's Pasture preservation has a long history, with the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy working years to try secure funding for the purchase. It also required turning around a 56% to 44% loss in the July, 2006, Parks and Pasture Assessment District election to a 72% to 28% win on the November, 2006, Measure S bond.

The turnabout happened because people who had been opposed to the assessment district came together with people who had supported the assessment, and both groups worked jointly for passage of Measure S. It just shows that the walls the Claremont 400 have erected to keep us apart are artificial constructs. It's simply up to us to see them for what they are and to tear those walls down.

The community really pulled together for Measure S in ways rarely seen in Claremont. Unfortunately, what should have been a model for cooperation was discarded by the Claremont 400, who were more concerned with remaining in power than in building community. As soon as the March, 2007, City Council election rolled around, the 400 were back to their old whispering campaign game. More of that selective memory erasing history.

Still, that model is there if anyone ever chooses to use it.