The agriculture roots of Mountain View will get a new plot of fertile ground, thanks to a decision by the City Council on Tuesday.
Under a conceptual plan for Mountain View's newest park, the Rengstorff Avenue house and orchard that was formerly home to the Stieper family will be made into a public "sanctuary" to display the achievements of the area's historic farmers as well as their modern counterparts. The plans call for the North Rengstorff Avenue Park perhaps better known as the Stieper property to be a new home for community gardeners, beekeepers and history buffs.
"There are some things that are a treat to vote for. This is one of them," said Councilman Ken Rosenberg at the June 9 meeting.
The 1.2-acre plot at 771 North Rengstorff Ave. was purchased by the city in 2013 from longtime resident Frances Stieper. Rebuffing offers from developers to acquire her property, Stieper agreed to sell her home to the city for $3 million with the idea that it would be preserved as some type of public open space.
At recent public meetings, dozens of residents came to support the idea of making the space a "passive park," meaning the site would retain its scenic character and wouldn't be designed for sports or intense recreation. The plan that emerged called for keeping as many of Stieper's trees as possible and adding a series of gardens, which would be maintained with the help of local farming clubs. As envisioned, the growing space would be used for demonstrations to teach agriculture skills.
As a centerpiece to the plans, the park would also be the new home for the Immigrant House that housed migrant workers more than a century ago. The structure will be rehabilitated back to its historical design and be used as a educational display. Members of its booster group, the Friends of the Immigrant House, announced at the meeting they had raised $73,000 of the $180,000 needed to restore the building, and city officials agreed to cover an additional $90,000 in estimated costs.
As part of the approvals, the city also accepted the gift a two-story steel windmill that was given by Mountain View residents Jon and Carol Garliepp specifically for the site.
The former Stieper residence will be demolished in the coming months and a new cluster of trees will be planted in its place. A final design plan for the park is expected by early next year, according to city staff. By that time, the city Parks and Recreation Commission will also consider selecting a group to administer the gardens and approving a formal name for the park.
Assuming those plans proceed smoothly, construction on the new park with begin next spring with the goal to finish by the end of 2016.