Palm Springs, CA
If you ask Jane Garrison how she feels about the current status of Prescott Preserve, she remains steadfast and hopeful.
Since purchasing the Mesquite Golf Course and turning it into Prescott Preserve, Garrison, Founder & Executive Director of Oswit Land Trust last night, gave an update on the status of the 120 acre property in Central Palm Springs next to Mesquite Country Club.
Two organizations, Oswit Land Trust and Mesquite Country Club HOA, are currently engaged in a lawsuit over the property. The former HOA board sued last year two weeks after the property exchanged hands because they hold a lease on the land that says the owner must follow “Golf Course Ordinance” rules. At this point, the lease has not been amended. Garrison made it clear from Oswit Land Trust’s standpoint that the 120 acre open space property for sale was either going to become a housing development with hundreds of homes or stay an open space. Her group advocated to keep the space open and create a preserve. She also argued the golf course was not protected.
A resolution may be achieved for those looking for a win win situation between Oswit Land Trust and Mesquite Country Club. Garrison confirmed she is in talks with the new HOA board and that progress is being made to come up with a resolution however, Garrison has her detractors.
Speaking to over 140 members of the community, many who live in Mesquite Country Club, Garrison gave an update on where the organization is in the process of preserving and beautifying the property since taking it over in August 2022. The land trust has been busy.
Here’s What We Now Know
- Oswit Land Trust is applying for a grant for over 10.8 million dollars for the restoration of 120 acres. This includes new native trees, plants, landscaping, walking paths, etc. as seen on this image here:
- The entire 120 acres was surveyed and it was discovered that over 19 species of special concern living on the property. See a list of the species here:
- Oswit Land Trust is planning on maintaining the strips of land on both sides of Farrell that run between the street and preserve. The maintenance includes watering and trimming the existing non native plants on the perimeter.
- Oswit Land Trust did not purchase the 10 acres of land that houses the existing clubhouse. It was never for sale and they do not know the current owners plan for that. (If you ask me, I say make it a steakhouse or a premier event space)
- Illegal encampments have been routinely cleaned up since the property has exchanged hands to Oswit.
- Walking bridges have been repaired.
- The grass purposely has not been watered in lieu of a more natural habitat.
- Plans are in the works to create a “pretty & prickly” perimeter screen around the property as can be seen here:
- There have been concerns from residents and visitors about Coyotes at Prescott Preserve. Garrison responded by saying she believes Coyotes are part of the ecosystem throughout the country and have been in Palm Springs since before residents arrived. She went onto say she doesn’t believe you can pick and choose which species you want to have. Some pet and non pet owners may have a difference of opinion. Oswit Land Trust has made a special educational slide surrounding this and other issues related to Coyotes which can be seen here:
Not All Residents Agree. See One Resident Marla Thomasen’s Response:
Marla Thomasen, a Mesquite Country Club condo owner who was on the call has objected to Garrison’s style of leadership and communication on this project. She said, “The HOA has been paying over $240,000 annually to the golf course under a Lease Agreement to be used for maintenance of the course. Oswit Land Trust’s position is that the HOA must abide by the Lease Agreement and continue to pay a quarter of a million dollars a year, but the HOA has zero say in what the Preserve will look like. Oswit Land Trust has never presented the HOA in writing with anything the HOA can vote on. . In some media releases Oswit Land Trust has said it will be like Central Park, in others it has said it will return to the desert. To return to desert, topsoil would have to be removed and land allowed to go back to sand. That’s a problem having 100+ acres of sand just steps away from all the homes that surround it.”
Thomasen went onto say, “The HOA Board does not have the authority to amend the Lease Agreement, it requires the owner’s vote. Right now, the owners do not have anything to vote on except a verbal promise that it will be beautiful. It doesn’t help that during the FAQ’s, Garrison did nothing but trash our HOA. She lied, made arrogant and condescending statements and, constantly reinforced that if she doesn’t get her way with our HOA, she will put up a fence.”
Jane Garrison Response To Resident Marla Thomasen
“I wish I can say that this resident ‘Marla Thomasen’ was correct and that we have been receiving $240,000 annually. The fact is that we have owned the property for 10 months and have done more for that land than the previous owner ever did and the HOA has not given us one cent. However, their tennis courts are on our land (which we are supposed to receive payment for), they have storage in one of our buildings (and haven’t paid rent), their employees use our parking lot without paying rent, we continue to maintain landscaping for the HOA ( just to be a good neighbor) and more. The only ones who have benefited from this lawsuit are the lawyers who the HOA has now paid over $600,000. If anyone thinks the Preserve is going to be 100 acres of sand they either didn’t pay attention to the presentation or they don’t want to see the facts. We are not in a blow sand area and there will be hundreds of trees, plants and seeds that will be planted within the next two planting seasons. This property was for sale for development with two developers not only interested but having a signed MOU with one of the HOA board members. Development was going to happen. It is shocking to us that anyone would choose development over having beautiful nature out of their door. The idea of fencing the property is not a threat. Our restoration plan calls for spending over $2 million to create a beautiful botanical type buffer between the preserve and the residents. Why would we ever do that and spend that money to plant and maintain that buffer if the residents don’t want the preserve and continue to sue us? Oswit Land Trust is deeply rooted in the community and is now responsible for saving and maintaining over 5,000 acres of land. We work hard to create a better world for us and future generations. Our reputation speaks for itself. But I guess with anything in life, you can’t keep everyone happy all the time. “
What’s next for Prescott Preserve?
If the lawsuit between Oswit Land Trust and Mesquite Country Club doesn’t get settled before August, it may hinder the organization from getting the grant money. Jane Garrison said she prefers the process to be transparent in respect to future plans for Prescott Preserve, keeping the process and preserve open to the public. If an agreement cannot be met between Oswit Land Trust and Mesquite Country Club HOA, fences may have to be erected.
(Story has been updated with Marla Thomasen, a Mesquite Country Club condo owner’s quote and Jane Garrison of Oswit Land Trust’s response)
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