The California State Park and Recreation Commission is expected to approve the general plan and environmental impact report (EIR) for the property currently known as Cowell Ranch/John Marsh at its Jan. 27 meeting. The general plan provides for acreage in the area north of Round Valley Regional Preserve and Los Vaqueros Watershed.
Once the general plan and EIR are approved, the commission is expected – during the same meeting – to rename the property Los Meganos State Park.
“It is our staff’s recommendation that this is the best name because we believe it offers a flow of the state’s history, not just a snapshot,” said Steve Musillami, planning division chief for California State Parks. The Los Meganos name (which means sandy hills) was actually part of John Marsh’s original acquisition – he actually used the name “Ranchos de Los Meganos.”
“This particular site is unique because when we got into the general plan we learned a lot more about the archeological resources in the area,” added Musillami. “It’s one of the most unique sites in California.”
But Gene Metz, president of the John Marsh Historic Trust, believes the property – which will include the revitalized John Marsh House as its focal point – should be named John Marsh Historic State Park.
“We believe that if appropriately used, the name John Marsh Historic State Park can convey the positive interaction between the whites and the Indians,” said Metz. “We think with the Marsh name, people will be eager and interested in learning and celebrating that time in the state’s history.”
This latest effort to stave off the Los Meganos moniker is the third go-around for the Marsh Trust board, which has lobbied heavily for the name it feels is a better representation of the area and the state’s history.
“The commission attempted to rename the property last year and we asked that it not be done at that time,” said Metz. “Now it has come up again and we will again make our feelings known. But how much weight we can carry, I don’t know.”
Plans for the state park include the revitalized Marsh house, walking and hiking trails, picnic areas, equestrian facilities and camping in Round Valley and the eastern part of the park. Money for the project has been difficult to find, but approval of the general plan and EIR paves the way for additional grant opportunities and funding resources.
“This will be a very big step in the process,” said Roy Stearns, communications director for California State Parks. “Because once the name is officially put onto the maps, we can move ahead with the project.”
Metz agrees that the most important thing is to get the park up and running – regardless of the site’s name. “Of course we are absolutely delighted that the project is moving ahead,” said Metz. “What’s important is getting the park open and available to the public to enjoy, discover and learn about the history of early California.”
The commission will take part in a briefing on the general plan and naming proposal for the Cowell/Marsh property on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the John Marsh house, 21999 Marsh Creek Road. The entrance to the property is approximately 700 feet south of the intersection of Vineyard Parkway and Marsh Creek Road.
The commission will meet again on Friday, Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. in the Community Room of the City of Brentwood Community Center, 35 Oak St., to vote on the general plan and EIR and consider the renaming of the site. Both meetings are open to the public.