Benicia proposal to operate state rec area could be doomed

Benicia proposal to operate state rec area could be doomed

Benicia : CA : USA | Jun 12, 2012 at 1:11 AM PDT
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Rebuilding Together Solano County Rehabs Two Benicia Homes - June 2010

Benicia's state recreation area, one of the only two state parks in Solano County, appears closer to being shut down next month after California officials rejected a local proposal to keep it open.

A spokesman for the state parks department in Sacramento said the proposal from the city and the nonprofit Benicia State Parks Association to keep the recreation area open after June 30 had officially been rejected.

View slideshow: Benicia Capitol State Historic Park

Roy Stearns, the California parks department's deputy communications director, said Thursday that the local proposal was turned down because it was contingent on continued funding from the state.

"We basically informed them that we can't give them money we don't have,"

Stearns said. "If we had the money, we would operate the park."

The 700-acre property, largely bay wetlands, was acquired by the state from the family of Patrick Dillon, a Benicia pioneer, in 1967.

"We have reached a point where there is no agreement but, if something changes, we're listening," Stearns said.

"It does not look like there will be a successful outcome unless something changes."

Benicia was a prominent city in the 1850s, when California became part of the United States.

It was the state capital in 1853 and early 1854.

In fact, the other Solano County state park commemorates Benicia's pivotal role in California history but also is threatened with closure.

Benicia Capitol State Historic Park is located on the city's main street, and features the restored capital building and an historic residence, the Fischer-Hanlon House, that was moved to the site in 1858.

Local volunteers also have organized to save that park when the state parks department departs, presumably on June 30 when California's fiscal year ends.

City officials have reached an agreement with the state to care for grounds of the historic park for two years after which, it is hoped, the state's finances will have recovered.

The capital building is the city's trademark and is considered essential to city plans to attract tourists to help boost the local economy.

"There's still some hope that Fischer-Hanlon House and Capitol can come to fruition, and that's good," Stearns said.

A top city official acknowledged Thursday that negotiations involving both Benicia parks were continuing.

Economic Development Director Mario Giuliani said the city was looking for an outside party to help fund the recreation area if money was not forthcoming from state government.

"The city and state continue to discuss but there are still some major issues," Giuliani said. "There's political will in Sacramento and we're hopeful that that desire will carry the day."

For more information, visit the Web site of the Benicia State Parks Association at

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Benicia Capitol
Benicia Capitol State Historic Park is one of two Solano County parks scheduled to close July 1. Photo: Eugene Zelenko/Wikimedia Commons
Nathan Salant is based in San Francisco, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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  • Funding doubt snarls SRA talks « The Benicia Herald
    He said the city shouldn't have to carry the burden alone since Benicia's two state parks are the only two state parks in Solano County. “I would hope the city would reach out to Vallejo and Solano County,” he said. The BSPA is committed to ..



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