The Park Foundation, a Sonora based non-profit organization, submitted an exchange of property offer to the Sonora Union High School district board on Tuesday night.

The property exchange involves the 137-acre Wildcat Ranch for a property adjacent to the Sonora High School known colloquially as the Wilson property, board president Jeanie Smith said.

The Wilson property is located behind the football stadium and extends to Snell Street, she said.

The board has 60 days to enter into the agreement, which is non-binding.

Smith added that the board was not aware that the Wilson property was for sale. She said The Park Foundation had an option to purchase the property which would allow for the land exchange.

The board revealed the news following a 45-minute closed session at the conclusion of the meeting, but took no action on the proposal..

The ranch property has been valued by a Sonora appraisal company at $820,000.

Last August, the foundation pitched a plan to develop a park on the site to an advisory board appointed by the school board to consider what to do with Wildcat Ranch.

The community-based nonprofit said it would develop 100 acres as a public sports, recreation and arts facility.

Park Foundation President Ron Jacobs described a state of the art recreation facility to include to include a stadium, two indoor sports facilities, a disc golf course, tennis courts sports fields, running trails, food purveyors and trees.

The foundation did not make a financial offer.

Jacobs said the facility would offer youth employment opportunities, feature educational components, and could include a participatory partnership with the agriculture community.

Also on Tuesday night, the board also unanimously voted to not revise a policy that would allow wine or beer to be sold during a fundraising event planned at the historic Sonora Dome on June 9.

Tuolumne County Arts Alliance Executive Director Lisette Sweetland emphasized that with a potential forthcoming sale of the Sonora Dome and two adjacent outbuildings rented by the TCAA, this could be the last opportunity for the organization to “say goodbye to that building” during their planned art-sale fundraiser scheduled for June 9, two days after the Sonora High School graduation..

But despite her reassurances that the TCAA would not allow liquor sales and they would police the fundraiser from becoming a “crazy, swinging from the chandelier party,” the board said potential liabilities on dangerous, steep staircases, and the potential for unforeseen complications was enough for them to not consider changing the policy.

“I have a lot of personal reasons why I don’t think alcohol should be served at this event,” Board President Jeanie Smith said, referencing her own abstinence and the loss of family members to drunk driving accidents.

“”It’s just a hard call. You just don’t know,” she added, on the issue of a liability issue.

At the April 3 board meeting, Superintendent Pat Chabot presented the idea to the board and said, with their approval, he could develop a regulatory plan for alcohol sales on the property which would require proof of insurance by the TCAA.

Chabot emphasized that the event could provide publicity for the dome and also bolster a potential rental cost of the site.

Sweetland said that the liability issue would be covered independently by TCAA for any potential injuries or issues that occured that evening.

“The best way to reinvigorate the community is to get people into that building,” she said.

Board member Rob Lyons asked her, “would you have it there if there was no alcohol?”

Sweetland said she would, but the importance of serving alcohol at the event would be the overall effort of loosening pocketbooks for donations. Several funding losses over the past years for the TCAA meant that more events such as the June 9 fundraiser would be necessary to keep the organization intact, she said.

“As I take over that legacy it is really important that I make up that money and this might be one of the ways that I have to do that,” she said.

Another fundraiser was planned at the Sonora Dome in October for Habitat For Humanity, Chabot said.

Chabot also said Wednesday would be the first day allowing for Tier 3 bids for the potential sale or lease of the dome property. Tier 3 effectively allows for any person or organization to submit bids, following months of allowing preferential bids from city, county and state organizations.

“To anybody and to the world,” Smith said.

The board has not received any offers for the sale or lease of the dome, Chabot said.

Additionally, the board heard presentations from Cindy Zelinsky on the school CTE department, who offered notes on school proposition and grant increases the district could take advantage of to improve CTE facilities.

Chabot also added that Columbia College would be contributing culinary materials to Sonora High School, and at the next meeting in May, the board would consider closing the off-campus privileges for sophomores during the 2018-19 school year.

The board accepted a contribution from the Tuolumne County Agriculture Collaboration, which donated $4,461.33 to the Sonora High School FFA program following the Farm to Table Dinner event. Sonora High School agriculture teacher Stacey Ingalls said the same amount was also allocated to the Don Pedro High School FFA and Summerville High School FFA.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.

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