Tractor-trailers have been hauling dirt out of the site of the proposed Pixley Park site in Lodi in recent weeks by Geweke Real Estate to fulfill requirements of a nearly decade-old land-swap deal between the company and the city.
In 2004 Geweke Real Estate made a deal with the city to trade seven acres of land it owns on Auto Center Drive directly behind Geweke Toyota for seven acres owned by the city on Beckman Drive next to the car dealership.
City documents from 2004 detail that the land swap was designed to make Lodi’s 27-acre Pixley Park project a rectangular rather than an L-shaped. Once the trade is completed, the Pixley Park site will serve as a storm drainage basin and eventually be turned into a park containing an adult softball complex.
In order for the land swap to go through, Geweke Real Estate is required to dig out the basin to match the layout of the future park and make infrastructure improvements on Auto Center Drive, where the entrance to the proposed park will be.
The company hopes to have the work completed by the end of next year, said Geweke Construction and Development chief operating officer John Farris.
Public Works director Wally Sandelin said the construction requirements were put into the land swap deal because Geweke will get a prime piece of frontage road property that is more valuable than the seven acres the company will give the city.
The seven acres on Beckman Road can be seen by cars driving north on Highway 99.
Under the original land swap agreement Geweke Real Estate was supposed to have the work done by Dec. 2007. In Jan. 2008 Geweke Real Estate asked for an extension until the end of 2009 because the contractor hired by Geweke wasn’t able to move or sell the dirt being excavated for the storm drainage basin.
Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, causing the deep economic recession that brought many new construction projects to a standstill in the region making it even harder to sell the soil, Farris said.
The company went back to the city for two more project extensions in 2009 and 2011. Under the 2011 deal, Geweke Real Estate has until Dec. 31, 2014 to complete the work, according to city documents.
Farris said the construction firm Geweke contracted with to remove the dirt, AM Stephens Construction Co. Inc. of Lodi, found a place to use the excavated soil getting the project back on track.
Greg Stephens, president of AM Stephens, said his company is using the dirt for a levee project at Brack Tract in the Delta.
Sandelin said the extensions were granted because the city has no plans in coming years to finish the park portion of the project because it doesn’t have the money at this point to maintain it, but the area still function as a drainage basin.
Farris said the reported sale of Geweke Toyota to the Oregon-based Lithia Automotive Group will not affect the land-swap deall between Geweke Real Estate and the city.
He said Geweke Real Estate hasn’t decided what it’s going to with the Beckman Road land parcel it will be getting from the city yet.
Contact reporter Todd Allen Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.