The future of parks?

Try not to shoot the goats.

Try not to shoot the goats.

Strapped for cash, Sacramento County is looking to cover its assets when it comes to parks. In a possible sign of the future for county parks, on March 22, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will vote on a controversial deal on Gibson Ranch.

“We’re looking for good solutions to keeping the parks open,” explained Chris Andis, a spokesperson for the county, while adding that Gibson Ranch “could be a prototype” for future public-private parks partnerships.

Under the proposed deal, former congressman and local developer Doug Ose would lease the park for $1 a year and run it as a for-profit operation (with profits to be shared with the county). In a unique arrangement, Ose would also receive $100,000 annually from the county in deferred maintenance. Ose’s proposal for the park includes converting a historic working ranch into a pet motel for cats and dogs and opening a shooting range.

Andis said the county turned to Ose as their only option. “Keep in mind we would have had to spend the $100,000 just to ‘mothball’ the property,” Andis told SN&R.

Even so, Sacramento County’s proposed arrangement with Ose hasn’t passed the smell test with park supporters. A county citizen’s committee gave the Ose proposal an average of 62 out of 100 points.

With the park home to wildlife and a nature preserve, Ose’s record as a naturalist is also stinky. As a congressman, he received a 15 rating out of 100 on environmental issues from the League of Conservation Voters. In 2003, The Associated Press also reported that the-Rep. Ose lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to weaken clean-water regulations for businesses that contributed to his campaign.

But politics makes for strange bedfellows, and the county says the proposed Ose hookup will be a “win-win.”

“Most importantly,” Andis said, “we want to get the park open so that the community can enjoy it.”