A piece of property with deep ties to the history of Arroyo Grande is one step closer to being sold, and it doesn't look like the city will put up a fight to stop the sale.
The city's Historical Resources Committee met July 8 to discuss the status of Camp Arroyo Grande. Over the course of two votes, the commission determined that while the 29-acre campground would qualify for a historic designation, they would not recommend that the city move to make it an official designation.
Camp Arroyo Grande was the site of the city's first Methodist Church and pre-dates the city's incorporation. The nearly 120-year-old site is now owned by the California Pacific Conference of the Methodist Church, which put the property up for sale earlier this year. The move to sell Camp Arroyo Grande raised alarm with some community members, who called for the city to give the site a historic designation. Such a designation would have placed restrictions on building, development, or demolition at the site.
The committee originally met in March and voted to declare the site historic, but due to an error in the public noticing for the meeting, the vote wasn't valid and was rescheduled for July 8. In between the two meetings, the California Pacific Conference of the Methodist Church made it clear that it would fight any historical designation, claiming an exemption under state law. In a written declaration to the city, the conference also stated that its continued ownership of the property wasn't feasible.
"The costs of maintaining, preserving, and operating the campground has become a burden which detracts from the ability of the conference to carry out its mission and ministry," the conference wrote.
Not everyone was satisfied with the Historical Resources Committee's decision, even in the face of the church's opposition. Rick Barbezat, great-grandson of the man who originally donated the property to the Arroyo Grande Methodist Episcopal Church in 1897, expressed disappointment with the outcome and claimed the California Pacific Conference of the Methodist Church was simply out for financial gain.
"The Methodist Church is quick to make as much money as they can with no regard to its local members or local community," Barbezat wrote in an email to New Times.
As of July 12, the property remains on the market.