Commission still wants Dangberg Home Ranch site
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to continue a lawsuit concerning the county’s holding in the Dangberg ranch.
Deputy District Attorney Bob Morris said there are three separate interests the county has in the lawsuit, authorized by commissioners last March and set to begin this October or November.
Morris said there are 123 items subject to court order given to the county as well as the personal property of the Dangberg sisters including books, letters and clothing, and the home ranch itself, which, Morris said, is the issue of the litigation.
At issue is the county’s claim that the ranch was to be offered to the state of Nevada or Douglas County for sale to be used as a historical museum following the death of the last surviving of the Dangberg sisters, Katrina Glide, nearly two years ago.
Morris said that despite the fact that the DA’s office is always interested in negotiating a settlement in the suit, he is moving towards litigation.
“At this point I am not actively seeking a compromise,” said Morris.
“It has the ability to become a dynamic attraction in this town,” said former commissioner Mike Fischer, a member of the Home Ranch Advisory Committee while addressing the commission Thursday.
Fischer said the county should put money into the ranch, a site on the National Register of Historic Places. Successful litigation would make the ranch a viable tourist attraction and provide a glimpse into the styles and traditions of Old West ranching only a few miles south of Minden on State Route 88.
Commission chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen, who is himself a rancher, said he’s not happy about entering a lawsuit with the largest non-gaming employer in the state.
“This is not a walk in the park for me,” said Etchegoyhen.
Matt Benson, who managed the Heritage Ranch on State Route 88 in Minden addressed the commission with concerns about the county’s interest in the ranch.
“This is an inappropriate place for a museum,” said Benson. He said that while the home is beautiful, most of the residence was built not in the 1850s, but in the 1890s showing the beginnings of industrial architecture, not Old West styles.
“Money we have in the fund would be much better used in museums we have already,” said Benson, referring to the $1.7 million in room tax funds set aside for operation of the ranch.
The commissioners then discussed the issue, taking into account the points that Fischer and Benson had made.
“I’m trying to look at the tourism component,” said commissioner Don Miner. “How can it pay for itself?”
Miner said that it would cost up to $5 million in front-end costs to get the ranch to a level that would facilitate public use as well as $150,000 to $200,000 annually for upkeep.
“How are we going to fund this?” asked Miner. “It doesn’t appear to pay for itself.”
“I don’t think we should remove our leverage point at this time,” said commissioner Steve Weissinger. “But let’s keep it a friendly lawsuit if ever there is one.”
“If it can’t be shown to be a net income producer, then it’s never going to happen,” said Etchegoyhen.