By Karen Brainard
John Degenfelder said the County of San Diego Historic Site Board “knocked the wind out of my sails” when it did not approve historic designation for Old Survery 97.
He is, however, upbeat that two of his other pet projects are moving along with county approval — the Santa Maria Greenway and renovating an old rodeo arena.
Degenfelder, a founding member of the Ramona Trails Association, is on the advisory board for the county’s Parks and Recreation Department and a volunteer on the mounted patrol.
He, along with his wife, Arvie, have been seeking historical designation for Old Survery 97, a former Native American trail and stagecoach route. The 6 1/2-mile route cuts through what is now the Ramona Grasslands Preserve down into the San Pasqual Valley, near Bandy Canyon Road.
For almost 20 years, the Degenfelders have dreamed of seeing the notable route receive proper designation. They had documentation prepared by historian Stephen Van Wormer, along with maps and photos of the route.
For the Historic Site Board’s Oct. 17 meeting, the Degenfelders prepared packets of information for each board member.
They also sought required consent from affected property owners. Degenfelder said 80 to 90 percent of the route is on county-owned land. The rest is on land owned by six property owners on Bandy Canyon Road.
For the route to be designated historic, at least 50 percent of the property owners had to give their consent, but only two did and one was the county, said Degenfelder.
“The other five did not respond,” Degenfelder said.
The county took that as a “no,” he added. “We just needed four out of the seven to make it work.”
Degenfelder said there is concern that such designation would create a trail and hikers would trespass on private property, but that is not what he is seeking.
“I want to make it clear,” he said. “We’re not indicating a trail, just a historic site description.”
The board also did not give its approval, he said, because a property owner disputed part of the route’s location. Degenfelder said Ramona historian Richard Carrico was at the meeting to support Van Wormer’s documentation of the route and its location.
Degenfelder said this was his third meeting with the historic site board, which meets every three months. The next meeting will be Jan. 23 and Degenfelder said he has to decide his next step.
In positive news, Degenfelder said the county gave the OK to the Ramona Trails Association to refurbish an old rodeo arena on the former Davis-Eagle Ranch off Montecito Way that is now part of the county-owned Ramona Grasslands. The arena is at least 60 years old, he said, and has an old two-story judges stand.
The trails association will pay for improvements that are expected to take about six months. Plans include having the arena available for horse training and exercise and occasional horse and dog shows.
Another piece of good news, he said, was the county board of supervisors’ approval of $20,000 in Neighborhood Reinvestment Program money for the Santa Maria Creek Greenway. The money, he said, will go toward creating a staging area and kiosk on Montecito Road where the county owns about an acre of land between the creek and the former elementary school.
The county parks and recreation department is ironing out issues for entrance to the site, he said. Future plans call for creating a trail along the creek from Wellfied Park to the Ramona Grasslands.