The Foundation for Girsh Park is looking for a new strategy to raise $2.3 million by May 1 to save the baseball fields that house the Dos Pueblos Little League.
Girsh Park, located behind the Camino Real Marketplace on Phelps Road and Storke Road, includes over 12 acres of land permanently designated as a public park and 13 acres of land used by groups such as Dos Pueblos Little League. The Foundation for Girsh Park was created to manage the 12 acres of public parkland, which was donated by owner and Camino Real President Mark Linehan.
A little over a year ago, the remaining13 acres were appraised for $6 million. Linehan originally intended to sell the land to housing developers, but agreed to give the foundation the opportunity to purchase it for $4 million.
Foundation Executive Director Ben Pettit said although there has been tremendous support from members in the community, the Foundation will not be able to raise all the money from small local support.
“The bulk of the remaining money will probably come from a few wealthy individuals in the community as well as different organizations. I am very optimistic about our chances for acquiring the land because of our community support,” Pettit said.
Derek Westen, the president of the foundation, said it has received $1,735,000 in pledges so far, including $800,000 from the county Board of Supervisors and $250,000 from the Goleta Land Trust.
State senator Jack O’Connell set aside $500,000 in the state budget for the baseball fields, but Westen said he worries that Governor Gray Davis will veto the park allocation when he reviews the budget.
Linehan said he intends to sell to the foundation, provided they can come up with the money.
“Though many people would like to see the space converted to public housing, our objective is that the fields will become part of the park,” Linehan said. “There are other youth recreational programs that may wish to use the fields, and the foundation may need to look into converting a few of the baseball fields into basketball courts or other facilities so they can earn the money to purchase the land.”
Dos Pueblos Little League president Daniel Read said he is confident that the foundation will be able to raise enough money to buy the fields.
“I don’t think that Linehan will sell the fields [to developers],” Read said. “He is doing everything that he can to make sure that the fields stay there for use by everyone.”