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March, 2006


Giacomini-Park Landswap Deal Heating Up
Public Meeting To Be Held
By Don Deane

A land swap between the Rich Giacomini family and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area could provide a financial windfall for the Giacominis and accelerate development on the west side of Point Reyes Station at the wetlands.
Almost all of the Waldo Giacomini ranch had been slated for a return to wetlands with the purchase of the ranch by the park service for $5.75 million in 2000. Now, a few key park parcels traded for 9 acres of Giacomini tidal and underwater lands on the west side of Tomales Bay, will result in an 8-acre contiguous plot on the edge of Pt. Reyes and Tomales Bay.

Just how the patchwork of parcels were interspersed by Giacomini lands and Park property, and how the landswapping sprang to life is unclear. But the Park claims the tidal and underwater parcels along the west side of Tomales Bay owned by the Giacominis are key to restoration of Tomales Bay tidal lands Bay. Part of the deal would be an extension of Giacomini lands 200 feet further into the wetlands.

Up to twenty houses could be built on the eight acres. Another possibility for the parcel would be continuing a ranching operation with the creation of a feed lot. In either case, people in Point Reyes Station didn't expect to see either after the National Seashore purchased the land. The ranch will be within the boundaries of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but managed by the Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

The period for public comment was to have closed on Feb. 26, but has been continued for thirty days because of growing interest in the land transaction, according to Gregory Gress, Chief, Pacific Land Resources Program Center.

"We've extended public comment for 30 days," Gress said on Feb. 24.

When asked if he had heard of concerns about the inequality of the trade-underwater and tidal lands in exchange for developable property in town-Gress said, "I really don't have any comment on that."

Notification of the land swap was made to "interested parties" by Don Neubacher, Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent and by a published notice in the Point Reyes Light and the Independent Journal. The published purpose of the exchange is to: a) establish Federal ownership in environmentally sensitive wetlands, owned by Giacomini, that are adjacent to existing Federal holdings near the Towns of Inverness and Pt. Reyes Station, and b) convey to Giacomini Federally-owned fast (sic) lands adjacent to existing Giacomini holdings in the Town of Pt. Reyes Station, and convey an improved property near the Town of Inverness.

Point Reyes Station resident and Coastal Post columnist Jeanette Pontacq pushed to get the public comment period extended. "People in town haven't had an opportunity to discuss, agree or disagree with this proposal," Pontacq said. "The community thought they were getting wetlands when the Giacominis sold the ranch for $5 million. Now it looks like housing, an office building or a feed lot are going to be on that end of town."

On Saturday, Feb. 25 the Coastal Post learned the National Park Service would hold a public meeting on the land swap, time and day to be announced. At that meeting, it is expected that locals will require answers to many questions about this proposed deal, including financial, political and environmental.

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