Poway Preserve Supporters Want Ranch House Rebuilt

By ANDREA MOSS – Staff Writer April 27, 2005 12 AM

POWAY —— A small but passionate group of residents urged the Poway City Council on Tuesday to lobby the county to rebuild the Goodan Ranch house, saying the historic building deserves a second life after being destroyed by the 2003 Cedar fire.

County officials have a different plan for the structure, which was reduced to its stone foundations, partially melted windows and pieces of walls when the flames swept through the 2,143-acreSycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve. The nature area includes Goodan Ranch, whose entrance is at the southern end of Sycamore Canyon Road.

The preserve is jointly owned by the county and the cities of Poway and Santee and overseen by a joint powers authority whose members represent all three entities.

In February, county officials went public with a proposal that calls for the ranch house ruins to be left as they are, turning them into a monument of sorts to the former structure, built in the 1930s.

The county would then build a new, 2,800-square-footinterpretative center near the ranch house site. The $1 million plan is based on the county’s conclusion that new building codes would make a reconstruction project too costly.

On Tuesday, though, nine representatives of local equestrian and hiking groups and the nonprofit Friends of Goodan Ranch told the council they can not stand the idea of a new, modern-looking building taking the ranch house’s place.

They also voiced concern that a large-scale interpretative center, such as the one proposed by the county, would bring a high number of people and cars into the preserve. Currently, vehicles must be left at an equestrian staging at the preserve’s entrance,and people must ride or hike about a mile down a road to the ranch house site.

“To put a building that doesn’t belong there, it just doesn’t make sense,” said Poway resident Mike Frye. “I’d rather see nothing there than that.”

Robert Coates, regional president of the California State Horsemen’s Association and a member of the Friends group, as well as a local one dedicated to trails, told the council that Goodan Ranch supporters did some research that led them to a company that specializes in restoring historic buildings at relatively low cost.The reconstruction of Ramona’s adobe Town Hall after it burned, and restoration work at Vista’s Rancho Guajome Adobe, were among the buildings Coates cited as examples of the company’s successful efforts.

“The Friends (of Goodan Ranch) recently asked Augustine to look at the ranch house,” he said. “They said they can rebuild it for about $600,000.”

An interpretative center could be included inside the ranch house for another $100,000, Coates said. Based on the $1 million estimate for the county’s proposal, that would leave about $300,000 for the construction of a small auditorium that county officials have also indicated they would like to build in the preserve, he said.

He and other preserve supporters urged the council to push for the ranch house’s reconstruction at a meeting of the joint powers authority Friday. The council could not vote on the matter since it was not on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, but City Manager Jim Bowersox, who is one of the city’s representatives on the authority, appeared to be making notes.

Contact staff writer Andrea Moss at (760) 739-6654 oramoss@nctimes.com.