The Cambrian

Sale of 3 sites could help fund Cambria library purchase

The Cambria Historical Society wants to move this 1881 schoolhouse on Main Street to the pocket park at the end of Bridge Street.
The Cambria Historical Society wants to move this 1881 schoolhouse on Main Street to the pocket park at the end of Bridge Street. sprovost@thetribunenews.com

Cambria’s services district is looking for ways to offset some of the price to purchase the old Cambria library.

Under consideration: the possible sale of three unencumbered district-owned properties.

The Board of Supervisors approved the district’s purchase of the building from San Luis Obispo County for $405,000 late last month. The total cost to the district, including improvements, repairs and renovations, will be $937,535.

The district is in the process of “spending some time … to get the financing in place” with Municipal Finance Corp., General Manager Jerry Gruber told the board at its regular meeting Thursday, Sept. 28.

Greg Sanders, the board’s vice president, said he believed “it might be helpful if we focus the staff on perhaps three properties that I think are low-hanging fruit.” Those properties are:

Nearly 1.5 acres of commercial property directly across the street from the Veterans Memorial Building.

▪  A house on district property along Van Gorden Creek.

▪  The pocket park adjacent to the post office at the end of Bridge Street.

▪  Sanders said he saw an opportunity “whereby the district can not only unload the pocket park but provide a permanent home for the old schoolhouse.”

John Ehlers, president of the Cambria Historical Society, presented a proposal from his organization: He said the society could take over the pocket park and move the 1881 schoolhouse there.

The Lions Club currently owns land on which the schoolhouse sits at 880 Main St.; it served as the Patty Griffin’s ceramics gallery for seven years before she moved the business in April.

The Lions, Ehlers said, want to donate the building to the Historical Society as a museum, but the society doesn’t have anywhere to put it.

“The ideal place for it would be at the end of Bridge Street,” he said. “That would anchor Center Street (which intersects with Bridge at the park) as a historical district.”

The Cambria Historical Museum and Maggetti house, which the society also owns, are also on Center Street.

Ehlers said that if the CCSD were to donate the pocket park to the society, it would be responsible for moving the schoolhouse there and maintaining the property in perpetuity. Moving the schoolhouse would also free up space for parking the new district offices, as the old library is right next door.

Directors voted unanimously to have all three properties mentioned by Sanders assessed, and for staff to provide a full list of district-owned unencumbered properties as soon as possible.

American Legion

Directors voted unanimously to update a lease agreement with American Legion Post 432 to lease the Veterans Memorial Building for $1 a year over the next five years.

The Legion had previously paid $1,000 annually as its share of the cost for gas, water, sewer and refuse disposal.

Sanders, who also serves as vice president of the Legion post, said it faces financial challenges, including a shrinking membership and the cost of staging a fireworks show on Independence Day at Shamel Park.

“The demographics are working very much against the post,” he said. “The size of the membership is shrinking, so the dues are shrinking.

Also ...

▪  Gruber said the district has submitted a plan for draining the impoundment basin, as mandated by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The plan, if approved by the water board, would take roughly 5½ months and cost between $20,000 and $30,000, he said.

The general manager said the 30-page closure plan, submitted Thursday, consists of two components: evaporation and a blending of the impoundment basin’s contents with wastewater effluent.

▪  The board voted unanimously to limit the length of any meeting, including closed sessions held as part of that meeting, to four hours (although the time could be extended by a four-fifths vote).

▪  Gruber reported that the district has made a conditional offer to a candidate for the position of finance manager; Patrick O’Reilly is retiring from that position.

▪  Board members tabled the question of whether the district should offer health care coverage to board members and their families.

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