Hap Magee Ranch barns will remain standing

Danville's Heritage Resource Commission voted to maintain two historic barns at Hap Magee Ranch Park on Monday night, following almost a year of consideration, testing and structural analysis.

The park, which is run by Alamo and Danville residents that comprise the Joint Planning and Operations Committee, was formerly an orphanage and later became a ranch with buildings dating between the 1920s and 1950s. At its meeting, the commission vetoed part of the JPOC's proposal for park enhancements, which included the addition of a community garden and demolition of the larger barn.

"The commission approved the resolution, modifying it so approved rehabilitation of one barn but did not approve demolition of second barn," said Principal Planner and Commission Liaison David Crompton. "They asked that we look at other options, possible ways that (the barn) could be preserved in place or preserved and restored."

In July, reports stated that both barns showed signs of fungal decay, water and termite damage that left each structure unsafe for public access. Upon further research, town officials found that the barn closest to the creek trail on the western portion of the park was in far worse condition and would require cost-prohibitive demolition and reconstruction. While a partial historical analysis of the buildings determined significance, the JPOC determined that a significant portion of history would be lost if the larger barn were to be torn down and rebuilt.

This decision angered several local historians, including East Bay Regional Parks Director and Museum of the San Ramon Valley Curator, Beverly Lane.

"Both of these barns are probably quite old and they provide what historic preservationists call a 'historic landscape,'" Lane said. "The information staff provided was insufficient. They did not provide for the Magee committee any historic information on those buildings, they treated them as if they were just buildings in the way of something. For them to act like it's no big deal is extraordinary."

While Crompton maintains that the town did not conduct a full historical analysis because it was already aware of the importance of the barns, historically sound reconstruction efforts have already been planned for the barn near the Swain House. According to reports, the rehabilitation would primarily consist of replacing roof beams, installing a new metal roof, replacing wallboards and repainting at a cost of $21,697.

Although the cost to rehabilitate the other, larger barn would be nearly double that of the smaller barn, officials are now considering alternatives to demolition. In the meantime, the town will erect a fence around the barn to prevent entry. The community garden, run by Alamo-based non-profit The Bounty Garden, will work around the new proposal.

"It's not going to be a typical community garden where people grow things then take a portion for themselves, but all will be donated," said Assistant Town Manager Marcia Somers. "They want to really do it as a community service project and get school groups involved."

The Bounty Garden, spearheaded by mother and daughter team Heidi and Amelia Abramson, plans to build 42 four-by-ten foot garden beds and a small greenhouse near the larger barn. The team chose the site -- which will produce organic fruit and vegetables for local food banks -- for its shade and sun orientation as well as good dirt.

"We feel it has its best chance of being a self sustainable garden if it's in this location. Before we presented a 125-page binder on why we chose this location, we spent about nine months researching different locations," Heidi said.

Bounty Garden plans have been in the works for nearly two years and should not be affected by this latest development in barn rehabilitation.

"We'll work with them moving forward to make sure that their plan goes smoothly but also accommodates the structures," Somers said.

No date has been set for further discussion on Hap Magee's two barns. Officials speculate that the community garden may begin installation in one month.


Posted by Ralph N. Shirlet, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:56 am

Dear Editor,

Alamo region neighborhoods are asking an obvious question this morning, "Did anyone inform the termites that the barns are to remain standing?" In convenient reality, with potential use of R-7A funds for renovation the barns at unwanted expense to Alamo taxpayers, CCC-MAC Alamo might welcome a three minute presentation by the termites on how the barns will be reduced to sawdust without charge.

Now doesn't that seem to be a convenient solution?

The ROFL in Ralph N. Shirlet

Posted by Ralph N. Shirlet, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Dear Editor,

Alamo neighborhoods are asking, "What BARNS? Those are sheds that would be condemned if they were on private property!! There was a real barn just beyond the dog pens; what happen to its historical significance?"

So I did my walk past the barns and discovered they ARE sheds obviously built as temporary storage.

What a fun and entertaining subject? So exactly when ARE we all going to study, at R-7A expense, the historical significance of regional manhole covers? If we can spend commission time on sheds we certainly would enjoy humorous review of manhole covers and all they mean to our communities.

Shall we shed some light on our heritage as you COVER these subjects?

Of Ralph laughing loudly

Posted by askidoo, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

Come on Ralph. Keep up with the times. Danville has totally taken over the running of Hap Magee with no input from Alamo other than paying half the bills. Didn't you wonder why the Danville Heritage Commission was the deciding body? not R-7A, not the former JPOC, nor the MAC? Since the County entered into a new Hap Magee agreement with Danville in August the only Alamo/County input is to pay money to Danville on all Danville decisions on the whole park. It was so appreciated by Alamo taxpayers to have the County - Supervisors, Staff and Legal Counsel - and the Town of Danville Parks act and remove Alamo citizens from deciding anything at Hap Magee - NOT.

Posted by Ralph N. Shirlet, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 21, 2011 at 11:06 am

Dear Editor,

The Alamo Towne Fool, as resident humorists in Alamo, are quite in agreement with askidoo and are sharing their concerns this morning for the cost impact on R-7A for any heritage protection of our manhole covers. Hap Magee Park is quite easily solved by either removing the park from R-7A funding or simply ending R-7A parcel taxes as proposed by Alamo region neighborhoods.

But we continue our worries about our manhole covers. Can you shed some light on the scope of Danville's planned usage of R-7A funds based on the authority surrendered to Danville by our county supervisors?

Of Ralph being overly Danvilled and laughing

Posted by Sick of Ralph, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 22, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I am joining many who hope the Alamo Safeway continues to renew Hal's prescriptions...

Posted by Safeway Pharmacist, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

Dear Editor,

Have you ever been to the Alamo Safeway?

I enjoyed your humor, but still wonder when you might cover issues important to Alamo residents such as how our R-7A parcel taxes are misued by Danville and CCC Public Works.

Hal, down on the "Pharm"

Posted by JP, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 24, 2011 at 8:14 am


sorry for typos spelling and other misdeeds i"m new but enjoy reading

Posted by CDSI Research , a resident of Alamo
on Oct 24, 2011 at 9:00 am

Dear Editor,

Beyond humor and outrage at Danville's abuse of R-7A parcel taxes is the story behind such abuse. In a recent news service feature provided to subscribers, research editors provided the primary issues of this story.

#1 - Contra Costa LAFCO reported that few in Alamo use any parks and programs funded by R-7A parcel taxes including Hap Magee Ranch Park.

#2 - News service polling revealed that Alamo region residents want R-7A parcel taxes used for open space protection and natural landscapes rather than formal parks, recreation programs, roadside maintance and business district tree lighting.

#3 - The same polling established that Alamo R-7A tax payers do not what R-7A funds used for Hap Magee Ranch Park's further development by Danville and CCC-PW.

#4 - Clearly, CCC-MAC Alamo's majority has not been able to restrict raids of R-7A funds by CCC-PW and Danville due to overrides by our supervisor(s).

THUS, a question has emerged, "Should R-7A parcel taxes be continued when Alamo residents do not enjoy any results of such taxation?" Alamo readers can answer that question to Ms. Jill Ray, District 2 liaison to CCC-MAC Alamo,

Hal/CDSI Research Fellowship

Posted by Brett, a resident of Danville
on Oct 24, 2011 at 10:16 am

Without lovely Danville and its amenities Alamo residents would have no place to go for quality food, shopping, parks, friendly people...

Posted by CDSI Research, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Dear Editor,

Alamo's majority shops and dines in Walnut Creek as was demonstrated in recent news service polls. It was further demonstrated that only a minority of Danville residents shop and dine regularly in Danville.

During a visit to the harvest festival yesterday, various booth personnel were concerned with the very low number of buyers both days. Various shops along the route had similar concerns for the number of buyers. On a beautiful day in Danville yesterday, restaurants were not filled.

There is value in Brett's commentary because a need is created to know why Alamo and other communities residents are not chosing Danville as a primary shopping and dining destination.

Hal/CDSI Research

Posted by Brett, a resident of Danville
on Oct 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Danville city budget is balanced, public services continue to be excellent, it has wonderful parks/recreation program for all ages, very few if any shops are going out of business and best of all, people do not have a stick up their bu++ (like Alamo).

So whatever you say, it continues to be the destination of choice for hundreds of smart, educated, highly successful professionals and families.

Posted by tom, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm

what an idiot alamo has as much to offer as danville.. good food, good shops and damn good people.. perhaps there are more places to get booze
which im sure you need. plus take costco away and see how your finances change

Posted by Hal @ CDSI, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Dear Editor,

Let me get this exchange back on topic: Hap Magee Ranch Park maintenance and development uses of Alamo's R-7A funds without Alamo tax payer's rights of review or direction of such funds as used by Danville. Our county surrenders to Danville on any costs Danville wishes to charge to Alamo tax payers via R-7A funds. CCC-MAC Alamo is powerless in review of R-7A funds usage because supervisors will not allow MAC members interactive discussions and mitigation with Alamo residents.

It becomes "taxation with misrepresentation" don't you think, Editor?

Posted by Gayle, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Perhaps if Alamo residents hadn't voted down incorporation we wouldn't be having these issues. We would have had more say in where our tax dollars of unintended consequences!

Posted by [removed], a resident of Alamo
on Oct 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Dear Editor,

It becomes a tired argument that an undefined incoporation proposal intended to duplicate the Danville government in Alamo would have resolved the voice of the majority in Alamo. That majority has voice, wealth, power and counsel to enforce their will and interests. The goal now is to remove Hap Magee Ranch Park from R-7A funding or simply use legal options to end R-7A parcel taxes.

The option for Danville's government is to respect Alamo's interest and fully support the equal voice of Alamo residents in funding Hap Magee Ranch Park. Our neighborhoods are now working together to insure county and Danville governments are responsible stewards of our taxes or new stewards will be selected.

That's reality!

Posted by askidoo, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Its not factual, but is tired, that incorporation was not defined, and that there is a belief in neighborhoods, counsel and a majority having wealth, power, and voice that enforces their Alamo interests. If they in fact had that influence then Danville Parks would not have initiated the end run around Alamo at Hap Magee. If they had that influence then funds from taxes in Alamo would be spent in Alamo for police and parks rather than the declines of services of the last few years (while the money remained stable or slightly grew).

If Danville's government were respectful, had provided an equal voice and was a good neighbor the change at Hap Magee would not have happened AND more importantly would not have been hidden from the entire community, including R-7A and the MAC!

The statements do not make sense that incorporation was a Danville duplicate when one remembers that incorporation was a contract city to avoid high labor and pension costs of most established cities while providing better municipal services which is not even close to Danville's town model. The similarity of course is that closer government, ie a city versus county government, is more responsive to the needs and voices of their citizenry: that aspect of Alamo incorporation was similar to Danville and every other city.

Posted by [clarify], a resident of Alamo
on Oct 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Dear Editor,

Let's focus on whether a successful Alamo incorporation would have made any difference in how the County and Danville operate and fund Hap Magee Park?

We can't know the structure of the proposed Town of Alamo government because Alamo Incorporation Movement refused to define the structure and operation of the government or offer specific budgets for such operations as part of their incorporation proposal. There were study documents created by consultants hired by CCLAFCO and paid for by Alamo neighbors' donations that generally outlined contract services and their costs but offered no specifications of incorporation or pro forma operating budgets. What we do know is Hap Magee Ranch Park would remain a joint operation among the county and Danville with questionable participation by an incorporated Town of Alamo because nothing was proposed and specified as resolution of the parks ownership and funding as part of any incorporation proposal.

We know that Danville continues county contract services and relationships much like those described in CCLAFCO incorporation studies for a proposed Town of Alamo. We know those studies would continue services by CCC Public Works with costs not restricted by the LAFCO study results. Thus, without specification in an incorporation proposal, there is no concrete control offered by the failed Alamo incorporation versus the current MAC's inability to control county and Danville raids on R-7A funds.

What we also know is Alamo's majority has the right of counsel, at their will, to pursue regulatory, legislative and legal actions in challenging uses of R-7A parcel taxes. Such challenges can include pursuit of election to reduce or eliminate R-7A parcel taxes and distribution of current funds to specific uses such as open space protection. With R-7A taxes being a very minor part of Alamo property taxes there are few reasons for Alamo's majority to employ the expense of counsel in remedying the abuses of R-7A funds by the county public works and Danville government. If parks become an abuse to Alamo neighborhoods, then wealth, power and counsel may certainly be employed.

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