CSD wants to buy Bass Lake

By From page A1 | November 01, 2017

To bring its conceptual dream of a grand park project to reality, the El Dorado Hills Community Services District needs to acquire the Bass Lake property that the Rescue Union School District bought in 2013. CSD General Manager Kevin Loewen outlined the CSD’s ultimate vision, which includes ball fields and an outdoor education center, before the RUSD Board of Trustees and school district officials inside the RUSD board room during an Oct. 24 work session.

The CSD has already secured surrounding parcels to build more ball fields (see map), including Lot H in Serrano’s Village J, which Parker Development Company has given to fulfill a park obligation it owes the CSD. A rezone application to change the land designation from residential to recreation is on file with the county. If nothing else, the CSD has had plans to build a 12.5-acre public community park there.

The CSD is also in escrow on 15 acres of land, adjacent to Lot H, owned by the El Dorado Irrigation District, allowing an expansion of its Bass Lake area park plan. The property is already zoned recreational. For context, CSD’s Community Park is 46 acres and Promontory Park is 19 acres.

In 2013 RUSD purchased Bass Lake and its surrounding 58 acres, including Sellwood Field, for $300,000 to build a future school, but in 2015 the school district purchased property at Sienna Ridge for the school instead. In March 2016 the CSD wrote a letter of intent to RUSD stating it is interested in purchasing the 142-acre property, but the situation has been quiet until Loewen’s presentation.

A change in leadership may have been the reason for the stalled negotiations. Both the CSD and RUSD have new leadership since the land acquisitions, with Cheryl Olson hired as RUSD’s superintendent in summer 2017 and Loewen hired to replace former general manager Brent Dennis earlier this year.

Loewen noted that the Bass Lake park vision fits within the CSD’s updated 2016 Master Plan — a document that sets the framework for what the community needs and wants. During the process, more than $140 million in projects were identified, with more ball fields, trails and safe walking routes to school all ranking high on the list. The master plan states, “Pursue management of Bass Lake as a regional park maintained through a regional public/private partnership.”

With the Bass Lake property, the CSD envisions building more than ball fields plus an outdoor learning center where the lake’s ecosystem could be studied and passive and recreation use trails. “This could be a fantastic community resource,” Loewen said.

Loewen noted that in his former job in Kings County, he helped plan and build an outdoor education center. “It’s flourishing,” he said and said it could be a model for them to work from and that partnering with area schools and other agencies made it possible, something he would replicate in El Dorado Hills.

“We can’t do it alone and we don’t want to,” Loewen said. “It’s better to help build community with community. We’re interested in purchasing the property from you, but we don’t want to purchase it and run away. We want to work with you and meet your needs too. We need to partner with a project so big.”

Loewen explained that with more new home construction coming, it’s prudent to preserve open space while it’s still available and noted other partnerships the CSD has, including Oak Ridge High School using the CSD pool, the Gilmore Senior Center property is a county-owned property, the Bowmen use the archery range and there are joint-use-agreements between the CSD and the Buckeye Union School District for ball fields and gyms. RUSD and CSD have agreements in place for Sellwood Field and the Jackson Elementary gym.

While a decision was not made, RUSD school board members said they would discuss what they think would best serve the families in their district in regards to the Bass Lake property.

The CSD is also seeking 42 acres of land that is county-owned, which connects to the east of the Bass Lake property. The acquisition of it would be the finishing piece for the CSD’s large Bass Lake Park vision.

Describing history on the Bass Lake area going back to the early 1990s, former CSD general manager and current director on the board Wayne Lowery told RUSD officials, “This could be the biggest thing in El Dorado Hills.”

Julie Samrick

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