Stuck between a vocal group of concerned citizens and a religious organization trying to sell off its property, the city of Arroyo Grande is struggling to referee the potential sale of historic Camp Arroyo Grande.
Since it first came to light that the California Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church (Cal-Pac) was looking to sell the 120-year-old, 29-acre site, residents and historical preservation enthusiasts have pressed the mayor and City Council to step in and save the campground, which has deep ties to Arroyo Grande’s history and is currently home to a popular summer camp program.
Initially it appeared that the city made some progress in treading the fine line between the desires of the residents to preserve the campground, and the right of Cal-Pac, as the property’s owner, to sell it. A report from the city staff indicated that the city was close to brokering a deal. The report stated that the city had reached a deal with the church that would allow a buyer who would preserve the site, and create a plan to relocate the camp’s historic Tabernacle. In exchange, Cal-Pac would agree not to exercise its right to demolish the Tabernacle structure.
The City Council was set to vote to approve the agreement at its Oct. 11 meeting.
But as soon as news of the potential agreement spread throughout the community, the entire deal now appears to be up in the air one again. At the meeting, Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill stated that Cal-Pac requested the council push back their vote for at least two weeks.
“They indicated that they have something else in the works that they are working on,” Hill said.
Cal-Pac didn’t offer the city any further details, but Arroyo Grande’s legal counsel said the organization indicated that it would be “something very positive” and “even more beneficial for the city” than the previous agreement.
The council voted unanimously to continue the item, choosing to wait until Cal-Pac returned to them with more details. But the murky assurances from the organization didn’t deter the residents interested in preserving the campground from asking the city to intervene. Arroyo Grande resident Bill Hart said a group of concerned individuals are trying to form a nonprofit and find a way to purchase the property, but they would need help from the city to do so.
“One of the things that we are really missing is a partnership with the city,” Hart, who is also member of the city’s Historical Resources Committee, said at the meeting.