Council stands pat on antenna farm
by Michael Langley
Dec 19, 2013 | 3649 views | 3 3 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two-hundred acres west of Tracy known as the antenna farm. Press file photo
Two-hundred acres west of Tracy known as the antenna farm. Press file photo
The eventual fate of the 200-acre plot of land just west of the Tracy city limits, known as the antenna farm, is no closer to resolution following a unanimous vote by the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

The land on West Schulte Road between Lammers and Hansen roads has been the object of debate since the federal government provisionally deeded it to the city in 1998.

When the city took possession of the property to block development of an immigration detention facility, it was given clear use of 50 acres. The federal government restricted the remaining 150 acres to recreation, educational or public benefit uses only.

At the regular meeting of the council Tuesday, council members considered whether to pay $1.6 million to the U.S. General Services Administration to lift the use restrictions or pay nothing and maintain the status quo that has existed for 14 years.

City Manager Leon Churchill recommended that the council spend the money, which would let the city pursue a wider variety of options, including a private partnership to develop the land.

Councilman Charles Manne asked about $3.2 million dollars the city has spent on the land since 1998. Andrew Malik, director of development services, replied that a majority of the money was spent on environmental studies.

“We had two (environmental impact reports) on two major projects, with some of the cleanup of the property, as well,” Malik said, referring to separate previous efforts to establish youth sports fields and a solar farm there.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel was at first in favor of taking Churchill’s recommendation to allow the city to take advantage of private partnerships.

“The Schulte Road property has become a white elephant,” Maciel said. “While it’s very tempting to look at that $1.6 million and put it into the many worthy projects before us, I think it’s worthwhile in the long run to rid ourselves of the government restrictions.”

Mayor Brent Ives argued that the money was better not spent, because the city has no plan or prospective partner to develop the land.

“I would not mind going ahead and acquiring the property if I saw some glimmer of hope for (a return on investment) out there,” Ives said. “Right now, I can’t see putting more money into that property.”

Rickman agreed with the mayor’s assessment.

“We haven’t heard any investment or any opportunities,” Rickman said. “That’s money we can use in the community today and make a difference in the community for the residents of Tracy.”

At the end of the conversation, Rickman made a motion for the city staff to continue negotiating with the GSA to preserve the land as it is. Manne seconded the motion, and all five members of the council voted yes.

• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at 830-4231 or

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 20, 2013
"...whether to pay $1.6 million to the U.S. General Services Administration to lift the use restrictions or pay nothing ..."

Only an entity with endless money to grab from other people would ever consider this a serious question.

We lose nothing by leaving as is and lose $1.6 million the other way. Gee, tough choice.
December 20, 2013
Interesting that the government doesn't want to be subject to government restrictions. I feel your pain...
December 20, 2013
What ever happened to Jerry McNerney? Sounds like he wasn't able to get the federal restriction lifted?

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