Torey van Oot, Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2010
As home to pop legend Michael Jackson, Neverland Ranch housed a working locomotive, a Ferris wheel and other amusement park rides, a 10,000-volume library and a zoo.
A resolution is in the works to order state parks officials to study converting the roughly 2,600-acre property into a state park. The state NAACP is backing the idea, and a lawmaker has signaled he is on board to carry the legislation.
“I think Michael’s history is world history and I think it would become the No. 1 attraction for the state parks if we could pull it off,” said state NAACP President Alice Huffman, who also serves on the state Parks Commission.
Huffman said in addition to celebrating Jackson’s contributions to music and pop culture, Neverland would join Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park as state parks honoring African Americans. Those factors, she said, would make Neverland a “great, great addition to the state parks system.”
The property is controlled by Santa Monica-based Colony Capitol LCC, a private- equity firm that acquired the ranch when Jackson was facing foreclosure in 2008. The company declined to comment, though company President Thomas J. Barrack Jr. told Bloomberg News last month that he hoped to sell it for more than $100 million.
Still, Huffman said the historic value of the property makes the idea worth exploring, even if profit levels are questionable.
“Even if it breaks even, when you’re preserving history and you’re making it available to the public, there are other values too that are assigned more than the money,” Huffman said. “I think it would be a money-maker, but (more importantly) I think it’s a piece of California history and world history that ought to be preserved.”