CONCORD (KPIX) – A piece of Contra Costa County history is in jeopardy. One of the county’s oldest buildings and the equestrian group that calls it home are about to shut down.
The Contra Costa Horseman’s Association is now pleading with Concord city leaders to keep their history alive.
Historians say Don Fernando Pacheco and his family founded the city of Concord. He built the adobe, located at 3119 Grant Street, in 1844. His family hosted parties and celebrations at the adobe named after him.
The structure was abandoned in the early 1900’s. The Contra Costa Horseman’s Association restored the adobe in 1941 and has called it home ever since.
Now, the city of Concord is evicting the organization and closing down the building. They’ve asked the association to move out by October.
“It’s going to be broken into. It’s going to be damaged. And I’m worried it’s going to be damaged beyond even city repair, “said Mindy Rourke, caretaker of the adobe.
And that’s the biggest concern when the city shuts down the Don Fernando Pacheco Adobe. All sides agree squatters will likely move in and vandalize this landmark.
For the past six years, Rourke and her family have lived in a cottage behind the adobe as full-time caretakers. Rourke is also the vice-president of the Horseman’s Association, which has looked after and maintained the adobe for decades.
“We are kind of subsidized by the city, but we need that. But we help them, too. It’s a mutual benefit,” said Rourke.
The association pays a yearly lease of $1. Yet, the city is responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in capital improvement.
The city says they’re subsidizing the non-profit with very little community benefits in return. The last equestrian event held at the site was a couple of years ago. In fact, the horse arena is now covered with weeds and not usable.
“We can’t put any more money into the facility without a longer term lease,” said Jill Hernandez, president of Contra Costa Horseman’s Association.
Hernandez says her organization needs time to turn the arena around. They’ve been on a month-to-month lease but banks require a long-term lease to loan money so they can improve the property.
The estimated repair cost for the arena is between $8,000 and $10,000. The Horseman’s Association promises to also pay for repairs to the adobe if the city gives them a long-term lease. They want a lease of at least five years and they’re willing to pay up to $12,000 a year for the lease.
“We want to work with the city. We want the city to work with us,” said Hernandez.
The association says their contribution can’t just be measured in dollars and cents. They rent out the adobe for events like parties and weddings. They give free tours every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They say they also host many community events.
Neighbors are rallying behind the horseman’s association and asking the city to rescind the eviction.
“This is one of the oldest buildings in Contra Costa County. You’re going to board it up and nobody is going to see it? Not good, not good, “said neighbor Joseph Chase.
The association says they will likely end the 88-year-old organization if they can’t stay in the adobe.
“There’s nowhere else to really go in this area for a horseman’s association. It’s the end of an amazing era,” said Rourke.
Members of the association are asking the public to support them and convince Concord city leaders to change their decision. They have six months to appeal to the hearts of those leaders.