HMB transfers 21 acre proposed park site to POST
The city of Half Moon Bay yesterday transferred ownership of the 21-acre property near the junction of Highways 1 and 92 to Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). The city bought the land, with financing from POST, as a future park site.
The land is currently being used for the city’s corporation yard for municipal vehicles and Department of Public Works equipment. Part of the property continues to be covered by black mats to keep down weeds as much as possible where nursery operations were once located. At this time, future plans for the land have not been determined. "POST is working to identify what options for this property are possible moving forward," said POST President Audrey Rust.
At the request of officials from the City of Half Moon Bay, in 2004 POST acquired an option to buy the property in order to assign the option to the city. Using a $3.1 million interest-free loan from POST, the city was able to buy the property that same year from the previous owner, Nurserymen’s Exchange, for future use as a community park. Unable to pay back the loan with general funds, the city sought alternative funding sources to pay the money it owed POST. After five years, when none of those alternatives came to fruition, POST agreed to take title to the property at the request of the financially strapped city so it could free up its limited resources for other purposes.
"We’re disappointed that the City of Half Moon Bay has not been able to move forward with a community park on this land," said POST President Audrey Rust. "POST took a special interest in helping the city because the property is a key link in connecting the wild open lands east of Half Moon Bay to downtown and the coast. We wanted to facilitate the protection of Pilarcitos Creek while at the same time help the city further its goal of creating a park welcoming people at the gateway to Half Moon Bay."
The city was originally due to repay POST within three years, in 2007. When the city failed to make scheduled payments, city officials approached POST in 2006 for a loan extension, and POST agreed to change the deadline on its interest-free loan to October 2008, then once again to October 2009.
"POST focuses on rural lands, but when this property became available five years ago and the city asked for our help, we knew they needed to act more quickly than they could alone," explained Rust. "That’s why we helped pull the funding together and provided the no-interest loan. Then, when the city encountered serious economic challenges, we agreed to give them more time to pay back the debt. This was certainly not the way we hoped things would turn out."
The property lies along Highway 92, half a mile east of Highway 1. Condominiums border the western edge of the land, with several businesses to the east. Highway 92 and Pilarcitos Creek form its northern and southern borders, respectively. Before the city took title, Nurseryman’s Exchange owned the land and grew ornamental plants there for 16 years. From the 1940s through the mid-1960s, farmers grew row-crop vegetables on the land.