The Big Bear Airport District Board meeting once again drew a crowd, as the potential acquisition of the former Big Bear City Park, which is just east of the runway, was on the agenda for continued discussion on March 4. However, before land uses (including the FAA-approved suggestion of a fenced dog park) could be considered, Airport General Manager Garry Dokter had an announcement for the Airport District Board. “I was contacted this morning by County Real Estate Services,” Dokter said. “The County is withdrawing their offer to sell the property to the airport. So, it’s a dead issue now.” The northern parcel of the former park still belongs to the Big Bear Valley Historical Society, as that property, which is home to the Historical Museum, was deeded to them last year. As for the airport’s long-running interest in the property, former Airport Board President Jay Obernolte asked how much the Airport District had spent on the possible acquisition of the park. Dokter replied that over $10,000 had been spent on an appraisal and, he added, “at least that in attorney time, so it’s tens of thousands of dollars.” As the transfer of park ownership, from San Bernardino County to the airport (with FAA funds), is now a moot point, so, too, is the potential conflict of interest issue that pertained to Airport Director Gloria Ann Greene, who lives within 500 feet of the property.
Since Wednesday’s airport meeting, KBHR has spoken to Third District County Supervisor Neil Derry, who says of the sale, “We pulled it back to reassess it and re-evaluate. We are not planning to sell it to anybody at this time.” The Big Bear City Community Services District does have a well on that property, which they have leased from the County for $1 a year. When asked about that, Derry tells us, “We’re going to work on granting rights on that property for the water well for CSD. I don’t know how we can go from a lease of $1 a year to asking CSD to pay $60,000 for the property.”
Of the property that was once the Big Bear City Park, the County’s Director of Special Districts Jeff Rigney tells KBHR, “Best use of it is as an open space for the community.” However, as funds anticipated from the sale of this property were to be directed to the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District to develop Paradise Park on CSD property on Paradise Way, that money will not be forthcoming. “So,” adds Rigney, “we’ll look for other sources of funding; we’ll go to other options.”