New Homes and New Park for Fair Oaks

Fair Oaks, CA  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd
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The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. Photo provided by Elliott Homes.
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The existing oak grove will be preserved as part of the Gum Ranch Park. Photo provided by Elliott Homes.

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. The project will add approximately 250 new homes to the area.

Many streets in the development have been paved and some street signs are already in place. The community’s main entrance, off Kenneth Ave., will be “Gum Ranch Road.” Secondary access will be from Treecrest Ave. to the west and from Madison Ave. to the south.

Ralph Carhart, chairman of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District (FORPD) Board, said that “the Gum Ranch property has been like the elephant in the room for decades…Everybody has been curious what would happen there. So there’s some relief that we finally know what is going in.” Carhart explained that various developments have been proposed for the Gum Ranch property throughout the years, but they were opposed by the neighboring residents. Carhart said that he believes this project has been “pretty well supported because it’s consistent with what’s been expected as part of the special planning area.” Carhart described prior proposals that pushed for the development of high-density housing, such as apartments, but Elliott Homes has “evened out the density,” which he believes is very important to the people who live in adjacent neighborhoods.

As part of their development of The Heritage at Gum Ranch community, Elliott Homes will also be building Gum Ranch Park, which will be dedicated to FORPD upon completion. Carhart said that as the density of housing in Fair Oaks increases it is critical to maintain parks and open spaces. He said, “Acres of native oaks have been saved in the area adjacent to Arcade Creek where the late Claudia and Irving Gum formerly sold pumpkins and provided hay rides through the pumpkin patches. The protected oak woodland will be incorporated in the new park as nature walk areas.”

Carhart expressed gratitude that the natural beauty of the property will be preserved, stating how important the property was to the late Irving Gum: “That land was his love.”

Carhart explained that Elliott Homes is developing the park but it will be maintained by the FORPD, funded through district assessments paid by the property owners of the Gum Ranch community. The collected funds are required to be spent maintaining the Gum Ranch Park and cannot be spent elsewhere in the District. While Elliott Homes is paying all the costs associated with development, the FORPD has been involved in the park design and worked with the landscape architects. Carhart said, “It will provide a nice transition from Kenneth Ave., with paths off Kenneth into the nature area that will be preserved with the oaks, and then into the developed park.”

Price Walker, vice president of project development for Elliott Homes, said that the model homes are currently under construction, but work on the park has not yet started. “We plan to start work on the park later this year,” said Walker. “The park will be a great amenity…It will be about four acres in total.” Walker said that native grasses and “the existing oak grove will be preserved,” and Elliott Homes plans to create walkways for easy access through the extensive nature area.

The FORPD has approved the design of the park, and Walker said, “Per our park development agreement with the District we are required to complete the park by April 1, 2020. So we should be under construction this summer.”

The park will have numerous amenities, including an open-turf play area, a tot lot designed with rubber safety material, a spin merry-go-round, a water play area, a wooden climbing structure, an outdoor fitness complex, picnic pavilions with tables and BBQs, and various paths and benches. The park will also have security lighting for increased safety.

The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. Photo provided by Elliott Homes.The existing oak grove will be preserved as part of the Gum Ranch Park. Photo provided by Elliott Homes. The future park land is studded with beautiful native oak trees that will be preserved as a nature area. Photo by Ralph Carhart.