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McClellan Ranch Park Could Become McClellan Ranch Preserve

History beats out recreation in plans to maintain and improve McClellan Ranch.

Update: The original version of this article indicated the name change of McClellan Ranch Park was approved by the Council, however, the vote was a straw poll, not a binding vote. We apologize for any confusion.

Before a straw poll vote to change the name of McClellan Ranch Park to McClellan Ranch Preserve during the April 3 City Council meeting, almost two hours of discussion on the park’s master plan took place between council members and the public. The last minute proposed addition of the 1880’s built Victorian Snyder-Hammond home to the ranch was at the heart of the discussion.

The house was donated to the Cupertino Historical Society and can only be sold to a non profit; it is currently being rented out. The Snyder house was under consideration for movement to the ranch as it cannot be accessed without traveling on railroad service roads. The Snyder house is older than the house currently on the ranch and could be part of a historical community on the preserve.

Some residents expressed to the council that the ranch is a preserve and the house will encroach upon the habitat while others said the house is one of the few historical buildings left in the city and is currently in limbo.

Helene Davis, president of the Cupertino Historical Society board of directors, said the house is “landlocked” with no public access preventing the public from visiting the house or property.

Deborah Jamison said new buildings could not be added to the ranch unless the preserve’s mission was changed, a mission which she said “could not have been written more simply or beautifully.”

In the end, the council decided to move to the second phase of the master plan any decisions regarding the construction of additional structures on the ranch, which includes consideration of moving the Snyder house and the building of an education center. The council also moved the assessment and relocation of the ranch’s blacksmith replica to the second phase and did not move the construction of a parking lot and park trail to the first phase.

Additionally, the former Simms property, which is currently part of the park, will be renamed McClellan Ranch West.

Other city council news can be found in the wrap-up here.

Deborah Jamison April 13, 2012 at 02:27 AM
McClellan Ranch Mission: To maintain and protect the ecology of the area, conserve the natural features and scenic values, expand community awareness and understanding of natural history and the environment, and provide enjoyment of the resources present consistent with their preservation. (Ordinance 710, 1976) Interpretive and educational programs must relate to the natural resources of the ranch (creek water, rich flood zone soil, and the diverse plant communities and wildlife supported by these elements). Historical programs should relate to the human history of the land who located along the creek waters and took advantage of the fertile soil. The buildings (ranch house, barn, milking barn, water tower) were there and functional at the time of city purchase, 1973, or were moved there soon thereafter and could have logically been on the original farm/ranch. The ranch house is used as an environmental center, chiefly used by Santa Clara Valley Audubon. The other buildings are in disrepair and need renovation to be available for history related programming. If the Cupertino Historical Society is interested in providing history interpretation and educational programming, they could and should use the existing buildings. There is no need, and would be counter to the preserve's mission, to move an unrelated house on to the property. The planned Env. Education/Nature center, will replace the long outdated and inadequate nature center located in the ranch's garage.

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