The Mill: Meeting with VCTC, Council to decide committee creation

December 31, 2004
Santa Paula News

A series of meetings will be held Monday to address the fate of The Mill, the county’s oldest continuous business owned by an area family for over half a century.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA series of meetings will be held Monday to address the fate of The Mill, the county’s oldest continuous business owned by an area family for over half a century. Representatives of the city, which leases the section of the railroad corridor that stretches throughout Santa Paula from the Ventura County Transportation Commission, are set to meet with VCTC Executive Director Ginger Gherardi Monday morning. The VCTC has suggested that federal grant funds could be used to help restore the building - which needs extensive upgrades – in partnership with the city.Later on Monday the City Council will decide whether or not to follow Mayor Mary Ann Krause’s December 20 suggestion to form a committee to examine Mill preservation. “What I’ve asked the council is to form The Mill Preservation Committee composed of two members of the council, a member of the Hengehold family selected by the family, three residents of Santa Paula and a Santa Paula business owner,” said Krause. “The intent of the committee is to help the council in deliberating the restoration and future uses of The Mill.”The building was erected in the 1880s. The Hengehold family transformed their former feed and supply store into an antique mall several years ago but retained all the items – ranging from vintage newspaper clippings to elaborately tooled saddles – as an informal museum.
The city leases the property under The Mill from VCTC for $1 a year and the Hengeholds were to pay the city $586 a month for the land under the approximately 10,000 square foot building. The rent was never paid.Suggested options for the future of The Mill include use as the Santa Paula Museum of Art to house the extensive Santa Paula Art Collection. The building could also continue as a retail outlet operated by Limoneira Co., an approach that has been talked about throughout Santa Paula for many months and led to Limoneira having an inspection of the building by a structural engineer. Limoneira Board President Alan Teague and President/CEO Harold Edwards have met with city administrators for Mill discussions.Earlier this month Louie Hengehold said the family missed an opportunity in the mid-1990s when “we were lined up to buy the whole block,” from Southern Pacific. The family was urged by then city administrators not to complete the proposed deal due to the interest of VCTC to acquire the land – the purchase was finalized in July 1995 and the lease agreement with the city reached in June 1996 - and the city’s own plans for the area.Limoneira wants to wait until the ownership of the building is determined before they move forward, noted Hengehold. “All we want is preservation of the building, it’s unique character and history,” that covers not only Santa Paula but also the entire county. “I believe some admirable agreement can be reached,” that will allow The Mill to retain its status as a cultural and historical landmark.

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