The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

January 6, 2011
The Money Trail: Gibson Ranch grant called a waste by U.S. senator

A U.S. senator has put a $440,000 stimulus grant for Gibson Ranch on his list of the most wasteful projects in the last year.

The grant will pay for energy improvements at a ranch house that hasn't been used in about a decade. It once served as a site for community functions in the 340-acre park near Elverta.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has long railed against earmarks and other types of government spending, listed the project as the 18th most wasteful project in the country (out of 100 listed) in his "Wastebook 2010."

The guide points out that Gibson Ranch has been closed since September and Sacramento County officials aren't sure when it will reopen.

But county parks director Janet Baker said the grant will allow the building to be reopened by June. It will pay for heating, air conditioning and other energy efficiency improvements.

"It's one of the park's cornerstones," she said.

The county received the funding because it submitted a grant proposal under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The county is also using a $140,000 state grant to fix the house.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the grants? Developer Doug Ose, a former Republican congressman, who is negotiating with the county the county to take over Gibson Ranch. He says he hopes to reopen it by April 1.

As part of the proposal, the county is considering paying $100,000 a year for deferred maintenance at the ranch in addition to the grant projects.

- Brad Branan

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