RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has tentatively denied the Jurupa Area Recreation and Park District the right to use eminent domain to acquire 4 acres of land for park space.

“I am disappointed with the decision,” said Bobby Hernandez, president of the park district board. “We strive to do the best for our community, and apparently it wasn’t good enough for the supervisors.”

The land is owned by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Riverside, who bought the 4.2 acres for $1.2 million in 2005 from the Jurupa Community Services District. The JCSD has since been criticized for not first offering the land to other government agencies before selling it.

Eminent domain allows government agencies to take property for public improvements, giving fair market value to property owners.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to tentatively deny the request of the parks district to file against Calvert.

County staff will have a resolution for final denial at the supervisors’ April 8 meeting, said Ray Smith, spokesman for the board.

Despite the fact that Supervisor John Tavaglione voted in favor of the park district’s request, he said he didn’t believe the parks district had done all it could have to explore open land opportunities.

“I think it’s completely inappropriate that this board was brought into the middle of this controversy,” Tavaglione said. “We had an obligation to hear the request of the park district.

Chairman Roy Wilson and supervisors Marion Ashley and Jeff Stone all said eminent domain should be used as a last resort and voted to deny the request.

“I don’t think this is a setback,” Hernandez said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re still going forward. It’s just a stumbling block.”

Hernandez said the park district board will address what action to take at its meeting Thursday night.

The park district has argued that the land was given to the community services district with the stipulation that it be used for a park. Hernandez said it should have been given to the park district, along with several other parcels, when the park board was created in the 1970s.

In mid-February, the community services district offered the park district $570,000 to drop the issue, but the offer was rejected as too low.

In July, the Riverside County grand jury issued a report that found the community services district board violated state law by selling the parcel off Limonite Avenue to Calvert and his associates without first offering it to other public agencies.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: http://www.dailybulletin.com