A cluster of flags, hanging from the ceiling of the Octagon Barn just outside San Luis Obispo’s city limits, fluttered slightly in the breeze as Daniel Bohlman pushed open the door.
There are flags from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Guernsey and Switzerland — flags that represent a nod to the various cultures that helped shape San Luis Obispo County and its agricultural history.
“The dairy industry in our county is deep,” said Bohlman, conservation director for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.
The organization, which worked nearly 20 years to save the 109-year-old barn, is getting close to completing its next goal: to open the historic structure to the public and create an interactive educational center, a meeting place and a trailhead for the Bob Jones City to the Sea trail.
The land conservancy has raised nearly all of the estimated $4.7 million needed to complete the project — all but about $850,000. Conservancy trustees and staff plan to ask the San Luis Obispo City Council during its budget hearing Tuesday to contribute $206,000 toward the project.
“We have always viewed the barn as an anchor and gateway to the city,” Bohlman said.
The money would go toward two specific parts of the Octagon Barn Center: a “barn commons” open space area with an amphitheater and a utility shed with restrooms; and a “calf barn and trail start” that would mark the start of the future Bob Jones trail extension and include bike racks, a picnic area and more restrooms.
In February, San Luis Obispo County supervisors approved plans to build a 4.5-mile stretch of trail from the Octagon Barn to an existing trailhead and parking area on Ontario Road.
Other parts of the Octagon Barn Center project include construction of a parking lot; bike and walking paths; barn upgrades for events such as sprinklers and a concrete floor; and renovation of the nearby milking parlor, which could be used for a museum, welcome center and meeting space.
San Luis Obispo finance staff is recommending the city contribute $50,000, according to the city’s preliminary 2015-17 financial plan. A budget hearing starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday, with additional hearings scheduled for June 11 and June 16.
The council could adopt the budget June 23.
Conservancy staff hopes the center could be open by late 2016. For more information, go to http://lcslo.org/.