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September 17, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, September 17, 2004

Old farm field could be history Old farm field could be history (September 17, 2004)

Neighbors concerned Grant Road site will be developed

By Jon Wiener

The 15-acre field on Grant Road has served as an artifact from Silicon Valley's rural past. But following the recent death of the parcel's owner, neighbors are concerned that it will turn into yet another residential development.

The lot, located on the eastern side of Grant Road where Covington Road ends, is home to Farm Fresh Produce and a popular seasonal pumpkin patch. In the year 2000 alone, 1,400 people came to visit from 121 different schools and 19 different cities, according to a concerned local resident.

Vicki Moore lived near the farm for 16 years before moving to Los Altos in 2002. She and several of her former neighbors formed the Grant Road Farm Alliance in 2001 and unsuccessfully attempted to convince Mountain View City Council members to put in mechanisms to preserve the farmland.

"There's a great value in actually connecting people with growing food," said Moore.

The site's former owner, Paul Mardesich, died in early August at age 91. His wife, Anne, passed away two years ago. They had lived on nearby La Salle Drive and had publicly indicated that they were not interested in selling or developing the land while they were still alive.

Their daughters, Betty Moore of Lafayette and Pauline King of Sunnyvale, are the trustees of the land, but are not yet sharing any plans they might have for its future.

"They're going to have to continue to be curious," King said of the neighbors who had been inquiring about the fate of the land, adding that she was not interested in discussing the issue so soon after her father's death.

The land is on the Mountain View-Los Altos border, but in unincorporated Santa Clara County. It is assessed at nearly $3 million, and its owners will owe approximately $34,000 in property taxes this year. However, local real estate agents put its true value close to $20 million. A 1.14-acre lot nearby on Grant Road sold for $2.1 million in 2001.

The city of Mountain View, in anticipation of annexing the land from the county, has "pre-zoned" it for single-family residential use with a minimum lot size of 8,000 square feet, according to city zoning administrator Whitney McNair.

Rumors about the future of the farm have spread through the local neighborhood rapidly. Daniel Mart, who wrote a letter in last week's Voice expressing his disappointment about the farm's potential closure, first visited the farm as a schoolboy.

"It is always a joy," he said, "to have this bit of pure and authentic Americana right in our own backyard."

E-mail Jon Wiener at [email protected]

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