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The Healy-Murphy bid: Parks & Rec board says no

If you've been following the Current's coverage of the Healy-Murphy Park sale, you already probably already know that the sole bidder for the small Eastside greenspace is the very same developer who first inquired about its availability (and proposed a handy solution for meeting state-law requirements for moving public parks into private hands) through lobbyist (and reliable campaign donor) Walter Serna.

Here's this week's QueQue update about the Parks board's thumbs-down on the bid, and, as promised, the bid itself for your perusal.

Sell-by date
Not that the City Council will necessarily side with the Parks & Rec Boardís sentiments, but the members voted at Monday nightís meeting to reject the sole $350,000 bid for Healy-Murphy Parkís scant acre. The lone would-be buyer? The very same La Villita del Rio Development corp whose inquiry re: the small, neglected Eastside lot put the auction wheels in motion last year. The vote is something of a blow for District 2 Councilwoman and mayoral hopeful Sheila McNeil, whoís championed the sale on behalf of City Hall lobbyist and La Villita Development rep Walter Serna, and is rumored to be telling her dais co-tenants that she has the communityís support.

The Parks board had voted once before not to proceed with the public bidding process, and the unexpectedly low price (the City was touting a figure as high as $800,000 last summer, although it halved that prospect for Monday nightís presentation) as well as the planís uninspiring details (another wing of the adjacent Comfort Suites, plus parking, with the historic Dullnig house preserved for shop or office space) sealed the bidís fate. [Read the bid sheet on QueBlog, at sacurrent.com.] Chair Mark TreviŮo barely had the introductory remarks out of his mouth before District 1 rep Hector Cardenas motioned for a thumbs down; a move followed with lightning speed by District 2 rep Alexander Saucedo.

A mighty brief discussion ensued, the gist of which was summed up neatly by Cardenas: ďI hate to say it, but itís not enough money.Ē A couple of members suggested the low ball might be a heavenly sign.

The proposal goes to the Councilís Quality of Life committee next, which is chaired by Delicia Herrera, who like McNeil is term-limited this spring. All five of the District 2 candidates vying to replace Her Sheila-ness have said they oppose the sale (although Dan Martinez would rather lease it to the Salvation Army than preserve it as a park). Merced Housing VP Ivy Taylor was the only contender in attendance at Mondayís meeting, but the bid is likely to suffer a quick death if itís not through Council by May.

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 3/25/2009 1:21:31 PM
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