Park District story

Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation and Park District Chairman Dan Hughes (left), parks General Manager Duane Burk and Dan's son Nicholas Hughes, who serves on the nonprofit Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation & Park Improvement Corporation, stand on property that the park district has inherited. Behind them in the distance will eventually be the home of a 1.8 million square-foot San Gorgonio Crossing logistics center.

Initially, the Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation and Park District anticipated receiving a 35-acre buffer between an approved 1.8 million square-foot logistics center and open space and residential ranch area along Cherry Valley Boulevard.

They also were expecting a $400,000 unrestricted contribution from Irvine-based Shopoff Realty Investments, the applicant who will develop a 300-bay warehouse known as San Gorgonio Crossing on 244 acres near the freeway on the outskirts of Calimesa.

It was something that former county supervisor Marion Ashley had been advocating for, as the project moved forward towards the last half of the previous decade.

In 2017 he was a member of the county’s board of supervisors that gave a 4-1 approval for a zone change to enable the warehouse development.

In July 2020, Riverside Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia dismissed a legal challenge, clearing the way for the San Gorgonio Crossing Project to move forward.

On Tuesday, BCVRPD announced a perhaps more substantial contribution from the Shopoff Group: 123 acres of open space and ranch land worth an estimated $8.325 million has been donated to the park district to the east of Shopoff’s planned development, made through the company’s TSG Cherry Valley, LP affiliate, also based out of Irvine.

The property was initially purchased by the Shopoff Group in 2018, and is known as the former ranch home of the late comedian Danny Thomas, of “The Danny Thomas Show” fame in the late 1950s.

The fenced off property lines Cherry Valley Boulevard leading towards Beaumont, and officially came under the auspices of BCVRPD on Dec. 31, 2020.

The former Danny Thomas Ranch is currently occupied; for now, the park district is happy to have a tenant keeping an eye on things, says park district General Manager Duane Burk.

Park district Chairman Dan Hughes imagines reconsidering the scope of the Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation and Park District to serve the recreational needs of not just Cherry Valley and Beaumont, but neighboring communities such as Calimesa, Banning and Cabazon, as the district formulates and plan and solicits suggestions from constituents as to what they would like to see included — the least of which would be sports fields and open space trails.

“We’ll be developing a master plan and invite the public to make suggestions,” Hughes promises.

Burk adds, “Anything we can do to impact youth programs and quality of life regionally, and help take off the loads on their fields, is something we’d like to do,” Burk says. “It doesn’t make sense to have everyone” in every city “building ball fields” if a lot of those regional amenities could eventually be hosted by the park district.

In a statement, Shopoff Realty Investments CEO William Shopoff says “As part of our commitment to the communities where we work, we are pleased to announce that we have donated the Danny Thomas Ranch property to help bring critically needed sports facilities in the region. We are delighted to be supporting the Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation and Park District’s mission to bring new recreational facilities to local families.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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