Moraga’s Town Council has passed on a request to contribute to a local effort to buy and preserve a bucolic 84-acre parcel overlooking the town and known for the paint-slathered rocks regularly christened by bands of local high schoolers.
In a 3-2 decision (Korpus, Sos, Woehleke voting “nay,” Wykle and McCluer voting “aye,”), the council scotched the hopes of the John Muir Land Trust – who had come before the town council asking for a $100,000 donation to help rescue the Painted Rock property. Close to the $2 million in funding needed to acquire the property, JMLT had hoped Moraga’s council would ante up the funds, with matching donations pushing them closer to their goal.
But that wasn’t the way it worked out.
Citing more pressing fiscal challenges and problems with failing infrastructure, the Town Council said no to the JMLT request despite the misgivings of Mayor Wykle and council member McCluer.
“I believe that at this moment in time, our town’s fiscal realities do not allow us to contribute meaningfully to the purchase of this property,” council member Sos said, setting the stage for much of the evening. “I believe that we need to exercise fiscal austerity and not philanthropy.”
It’s a case of “So Near, Yet – So Far” for the JMLT and supporters of plans to acquire the site for $2 million by a May 31 deadline, with donors standing by to match any donations made by the town to in order to purchase Painted Rock and link it with more than 400 acres of adjacent open space.
The site has been an object of attention for more than just high schoolers armed with paint buckets, with developers eyeing buildable sites and developments already closing in on the property.
Several locals spoke out on behalf of a donation from the town, perhaps one for as little as the $10,000 the town donated to JMLT for acquisition of the Carr Ranch property in better times.
That option, however, is clearly off the table as Town Manager Cynthia Battenberg flatly declared in a report issued in support of the town’s position that Moraga’s budget does not include funding for donations or the purchase of open space.