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Friday, July 16, 2010

Neverland Ranch reborn as a state park?


Despite opposition, Assemblyman Mike Davis pushes for Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch to become California's newest state park.

Image via: The Daily Mail
Although the exotic menagerie and midway attractions are long gone, Michael Jackson’s former estate, Neverland Ranch, is still one much-discussed property. Back in March of 2009, a couple of months before the fallen King of Pop passed away, I asked how you’d repurpose the 2,500-acre parcel of land in Santa Barbara, California. At the time, Mother Nature had taken over the once-immaculately landscaped property in something that could only be described as Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us gone Peter Pan.
Well, California Assemblyman Mike Davis has a grand idea: the state should buy Neverland Ranch — purchased by Jackson in 1988 for $17 million and acquired by an private investment firm in 2008 — and turn it into a state park. But not so fast … California state park officials aren’t exactly embracing the idea.
Ronilee Clark, chief of the Parks and Recreation Department's southern division, tells the LA Times:
We've been struggling with our budgetary situation and working very, very hard to keep the parks in the system open. We're not necessarily looking for an acquisition at this time.
Davis, who admits that corporations and nonprofits would have to chip in and help with the acquisition of Neverland since severely cash-strapped California wouldn’t be able to afford it, is pushing his idea when the Legislature meets again in August. Although it’s a financial stretch, I don’t think it’s too shabby of an idea. I mean what else would you do with it? Besides, there are plenty of private residences that have been turned into parks, nearby Hearst Park being one of them. I'm all for it as long as the park is really a park where Mother Nature is the main attraction, not an icky MJ memorial theme park or as the Awl suggests "some kind of museum of insanity." What do you think of Davis’ idea?
And a little interesting tidbit while we're on the topic of the homes of iconic dead musicians: Graceland, Elvis Presley's former home in Memphis, is the second most visited private home in the United States behind the White House.


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