Jason and Jay Johnson. Photo by Marshall Smith

Jay Johnson and son Jason met with county representatives to begin the transfer of Idyllwild’s Town Hall and lands to the county.

The Idyllwild Chamber, lacking funds for maintenance and repair of Town Hall, recently returned the building and lands to the Johnson family, who had held a reversionary interest.

“The county has shown an interest in taking care of it [Town Hall] and is the only one who has the funds to maintain it,” Jay said. “That’s why my family is moving forward with this transfer. Supervisor Stone has assured me that it will be a three-year process, as money becomes available, and that the county will rehabilitate the building to the best community standards.”

“It will be a 90-day process to complete the transfer,” Johnson said. During that time the county will inspect and evaluate the building and complete the necessary legal work to effect the transfer.

At the library dedication, Stone expressed enthusiasm for the transfer. In a subsequent meeting Stone said, “We’re willing to accept it [Town Hall]. Without redevelopment funds we’ll have to approach upgrading it in a cost effective and phased way. I think Town Hall will always serve some public purpose and there’ll always be a need as we progress on the Hill.”

Johnson said his family, including brother Steve, son Jason, uncle Jerry Johnson and aunts Carol Ann Adamson and Jo Ann Anderson, support the transfer. Jerry Johnson, Jay’s dad’s brother said by phone, “I agree with this. It will be good to have the building improved.”

The deed conditions remain as they had been with the Chamber — that the building and lands be used for community recreation and that the Johnson family retains their reversionary interest should the property cease to be used for recreation.

“My family has a long history of supporting and giving to the town,” said Johnson. “With this transfer, Town Hall will remain public and stay a recreation facility. That’s the way my grandparents intended it to be.”

Sixty years ago, Johnson’s grandfather Gerald Johnson deeded the Town Hall building and land to the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce, at that time the only organization that seemed to represent the community. But over the years the building has not been maintained or rehabilitated to keep it in serviceable shape for the community.

County representatives at the Wednesday, Nov. 28, meeting included Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone, Stone’s Legislative Assistant Opal Hellweg, Rob Field, Economic Development Agency executive director, Vince Yzaguirre, deputy director of real estate, EDA, and Bill Brown, CSA Operations Manager.