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Marin groups aim to stay on San Rafael schools site (Marin IJ)

Posted on Category Press Coverage
By  | | Marin Independent Journal
Players from the Yankees, a Majors Division team for 10-12-year-olds, jog around the
outfield before their game at the Gallinas Valley Little League field in San Rafael, Calif.
on Wednesday, 1, 2024. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)
Signs posted entering the Gallinas Valley Little League field in San Rafael, Calif. on
Wednesday, 1, 2024. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)
Players from the Red Sox, a Majors Division team for 10-12-year-olds, warm up
before their game at the Gallinas Valley Little League field in San Rafael, Calif. on
Wednesday, 1, 2024. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)
The Gallinas Valley Little League field in San Rafael, Calif. on Wednesday, 1, 2024.
(Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

Two community groups said this week they will submit offers to stay on land owned by San Rafael City Schools.

The Gallinas Valley Little League, which has played games at a baseball field at Old Gallinas for 65 years, and Community Action Marin, which has operated early childhood education services at the property for more than 30 years, say they will bid to continue using the property.

The 7.9-acre site at 251 N. San Pedro Road is owned by the school district and is one of four surplus parcels up for a “priority” public offering. The deadline to submit offers is May 31.

The public offering, which also includes the MacPhail, North Corporation Yard and Glenwood Marsh surplus sites, is open to public entities and nonprofit charitable or public benefit corporations, according to Jessika Johnson, attorney for San Rafael City Schools.

The district is “ultimately seeking the highest and best use, and fair market value,” Johnson said. Offers could be for all or for a portion of the site, she said.

Gallinas Valley Little League president John Baker said the league would likely submit an offer for a long-term lease.

“We put in about $30,000 to $40,000 worth of work on that field,” Baker said after a public hearing on Tuesday. “We plan to put in an offer that will mimic what we’ve already put in.”

The league schedules games and tournaments at the field for up to six days a week for its 35 teams of 400 boys and girls ages 4 to 16. The league rents the field by the hour through the Marin Civic Center facilities use program.

Chandra Alexandre, chief executive officer of Community Action Marin, said her nonprofit also would submit some type of offer to the school district. She had no immediate word on what that would be.

“I can’t confirm what we’ll do,” Alexandre said in an email. “It’s TBD.” CAM’s current lease with the school district will expire in June 2026. The center offers child care and other services to low-income families.

“We have generations we’ve supported, so much so that it’s a real feeling of family and pride at the center for everyone,” Alexandre said.

“In the last few years, we’ve leveraged our Head Start and state funding to support more on-site services for families,” she said. “We’ve got a production farm there providing over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce each year that goes into the meals our central kitchen prepares for children.”

WildCare animal rescue operation also has a lease at the site that will expire in June 2026. However, WildCare is only using the property temporarily while the organization renovates its facility near Davidson Middle School.

Gina Hagen, a member of the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Association, said her group did not have the resources to submit a bid. However, the association strongly supports all the current uses, as well as other types of “passive recreation” or cultural education projects.

“We really appreciate having the kids be able to play baseball in the neighborhood,” she said of the athletic field. The group also wants to preserve similar uses at the MacPhail property.

“We would like to see both sites stay in community use,” Hagen said.

Marin supervisor Mary Sackett, whose district includes San Rafael, said she attended Tuesday’s public hearing to learn about the process.

“I was there to listen and learn from San Rafael City Schools alongside the community members who attended,” Sackett said. “I appreciate the presentation given by the school board.”

The Old Gallinas property, which is in unincorporated Marin County, has been identified as a potential site for housing, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

Of the 7.9 acres, 1.7 acres is zoned for 30 housing units per acre. The rest of the property is zoned for 5.8 units per acre. The Marin County housing site list allocates 50 units for the whole property.

Bob Marcucci, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, said it is not looking to “put cash in its bank account” by selling its surplus properties. The district wants to see if there are uses that would complement the community while also returning fair market value, he said.

“Let’s say a bus company reached out to us and said they’d like to park all their buses at the site,” said Marcucci said, saying he was speaking hypothetically.

“So you’d have 30 to 50 buses idling loudly every morning,” he said. “I don’t think that would work out for the neighborhood.”

Used with permission by the Marin Independent Journal.
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