County May Tend Harry Carey Ranch.
Historical Society wants to aid in film site's upkeep.
By NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN, Staff Writer.
L.A. Daily News, Tuesday, April 29, 2003.
SANTA CLARITA Upsetting local preservationists, Los Angeles County officials are considering assuming control of the historic Harry Carey Ranch at the center of the Tesoro del Valle housing development.
The proposal would thwart the nine-year efforts of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society to be the caretaker of the San Francisquito Canyon ranch, an early movie location once owned by Western film star Harry Carey.
"We were carrying on negotiations and this came out of the blue," Alan Bofenkamp, first vice president of the historical society, said of the county proposal. "This was not discussed with us and it is totally in a different direction than our memorandum of understanding was set in."
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had been scheduled today to consider setting up a special park district that would levy a tax on Tesoro del Valle homeowners to pay for county operation and maintenance of the historic site.
The item was pulled off the agenda late Monday, however. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's spokesman said the supervisor wanted to postpone the vote in order to meet with all the interested parties to discuss details and consider other options.
The historical society in 1999 signed a memorandum of understanding with the developer, specifying that the property on which the ranch buildings sit would be deeded to the historical society and the group would obtain operating revenues through the homeowners association.
The property was never transferred because the developer could not guarantee money for the project and the historical society was concerned about being stuck with property it would not be able to maintain.
An attorney for the developer said they kept open the lines of communication with the historical society for years, adding that giving control to the county is in the best interest of Harry Carey Ranch.
"(The historical society) shouldn't be surprised, and in fact I don't think they are surprised," said attorney William Delvac, citing an Oct. 3 letter to the society stating he was seeking alternate sources of funding. "But the good news here is there is a source of funding for the preservation of the site, which is the county's goal, the developer's goal and presumably the historical society's goal."
But society members are questioning whether the county has the resources to properly maintain the site.
"We know what we do and what we can do. We are not so sure what the county would do with the property," Bofenkamp said.
"The county is every governmental agency is strapped for money right now. Will the county invest in the property for it to achieve its potential there? Maybe. I don't know. I'm not real confident in anything that requires governmental spending right now."
Officals from Antonovich's office say they support keeping groups such as the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society involved in the ranch's upkeep and operation.
"Supervisor Antonovich believes that it is very important for a historical society or similar entity to be involved in a project like this," said Antonovich spokesman Tony Bell.
Carl Kanowsky, the attorney for the historical society, said the group wants to play an active role in maintaining the ranch.
"The society remains very interested in the site and is committed to keeping it preserved and maintained," Kanowsky said.