Tesoro Builder Cancels Preservation Deal
SCV Historical Society looks to Supervisor Antonovich to resolve dispute over Harry Carey property.
By Pearl Obispo
Signal Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
fter 10 years of negotiations, the developer of Tesoro del Valle terminated an agreement Monday that would allow the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society to oversee operations of the home once owned by Western film star Harry Carey.
Members of the society are looking to county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich for assistance in the matter.
Antonovich spokesman Tony Bell said a meeting is scheduled Tuesday for all parties involved.
"The supervisor is hopeful the meeting will have all concerned parties hammer out the details to produce a positive outcome for everyone involved," he said.
Although officials may propose a plan in which operations of the facility would be turned over to the county, Bell said Antonovich is well aware of the property's significance to the preservationists.
"The historical society ought to be involved with a project such as this," Bell said. "And the supervisor knows they play an important role in the community."
The historic site, located in the middle of the Tesoro development at Copper Hill and San Francisquito Canyon roads, was Carey's home from 1916 to 1945. In 1953, the property was purchased by the Clougherty family, owners of the Farmer John line of meat products. In the 1990s the Cloughertys partnered with Montalvo Properties to develop the site.
Montalvo signed a memorandum of understanding with the Historical Society in 1999. Under that agreement, the Historical Society would operate the historic site as a museum, with funding coming from the developer and future homeowners.
Attorneys for the developer said the decision to terminate the MOU was well within the bounds of the agreement.
"Generally, we have the MOU which states either party has the right to terminate if we can't agree upon alternate sources of funding," attorney William F. Delvac said. "We've tried very hard to look for other sources of funding with no response from the historical society."
Leon Worden, president of the SCV Historical Society, said the developer's decision was inappropriate and he hopes Tuesday's meeting will resolve the outstanding issues.
"We believe the developer has no basis for terminating the MOU," said Worden, who is also The Signal's city editor. "We are confident that Supervisor Antonovich is committed to setting everything right."
Delvac said the society and developer were involved in a series of meetings and exchanged letters in which several options were discussed, including a suggestion to fund the facility through a county landscape maintenance district.
If the society were to agree to funding from an LMD, Delvac said, that would mean handing over ownership of the site to the county.
"We repeatedly invited them to meet with us about resolving this," Delvac said. "It was only (Monday) that we got a letter from the society saying they'd be happy to meet. Termination was just a formality."
However, Carl Kanowsky, the attorney for the historical society, said Delvac was incorrect in saying the society was unresponsive.
"That is not accurate," Kanowsky said. "We sent a list of questions in 2002 asking (Delvac) details and to discuss ways it would operate and ways of funding, and we never got any type of response."
Kanowsky cited a letter he sent to Delvac on Nov. 22, posing questions about the possible details of the arrangement.
Delvac said the developer remains true to the goal of preserving the historic property.
"Our goal has been to ensure preservation of the site," Delvac said. "And that is still our goal."
Kanowsky said he is confident Tuesday's meeting will produce positive results.
"We're looking to Supervisor Antonovich to make sure the promises that were made to the historical society will be upheld and that the one local organization that has experience in maintaining and operating a historical building is involved in maintaining and operating probably one of the most significant buildings out here," Kanowsky said.
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