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skyline park

Skyline Wilderness Park has 25 miles of trails. A bill by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would allow Napa County to try to buy the park from the state passed the Legislature on Thursday.

Napa County could soon get another chance to purchase from the state 850-acre Skyline Wilderness Park in the oak-covered hills east of the city of Napa.

A bill by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would allow negotiations between the two parties was approved by the state Legislature on Thursday. The bill still needs to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“This is such an important community asset, both from a recreational and environmental perspective,” Dodd said in a press release. “We must preserve this land for the public and place it under local control so it remains parkland in perpetuity.”

County Board of Supervisors chairman Ryan Gregory said in a press release the county appreciates Dodd’s efforts on a bill that will allow the county to start negotiations with the state Department of General Services.

Napa County apparently wants to get started immediately. The Board of Supervisors had a closed session item scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting to negotiate price and terms of payment for Skyline. The item was postponed.

The county in 1980 signed a 50-year lease with the state for the park, which was part of the Napa State Hospital holdings. The county pays $100 annually. It, in turn, allows the nonprofit Skyline Park Citizens Association to run the park.

In recent years, the county has sought to buy the land. A previous bill allowing the state and county to negotiate a Skyline sale passed the Legislature in 2010, but expired in 2015 with the two parties unable to reach a deal.

Gregory became chairman of the Board of Supervisors in January and in his subsequent speech of 2019 county priorities mentioned Skyline Park.

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“We’ve got to buy Skyline Park – finally,” Gregory said. “With this new governor, we see an opportunity. We are pursuing legislation that will enable us to negotiate to buy Skyline Park.”

The Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District is interested in working with the county on the purchase of Skyline.

“The state lease expires in 2030, after which the State could sell the land for other purposes...The district and the County of Napa are committed to acquiring the property to preserve the park in perpetuity,” the district’s recently updated master plan said.

Napa County voters in the March 3 election will decide whether to pass Measure K, a quarter-cent sales tax to raise $9 million annually for the Open Space District. The measure mentions using money to buy Skyline Park.

Some residents have expressed concern that the county might buy Skyline and use parts of it for something other than park, such as housing. Measure K states that the tax money cannot be used to support any non-park use at Skyline.

The park is located at 2121 Imola Avenue and has 25 miles of trails, including a popular trail leading to Lake Marie and other trails with views of the Bay Area. It has campsites, a disc golf course and native plant garden.

Dodd’s Skyline bill was co-authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.