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Mistlin donates 20 acres for park
Latest gift from car dealer to Ripon worth $1.4M
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Ripon developer Mark Wilbur chats with Modesto Honda dealership owner Tony Mistlin, right, at Tuesday night’s Ripon City Council meeting where Mistlin gave his city one more gift. - photo by GLENN KAHL
RIPON — It was a gift of love for his community: $1.4 million in property to expand the 80-acre Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon.

Tony Mistlin, longtime Ripon resident and owner of the Mistlin Honda dealership in Modesto,  Tuesday night gifted nearly 20 acres with an almond orchard and a residence to the city for future development of the sports park named after him.

Mistlin’s generosity is not only responsible for much of that park that accommodates soccer and baseball but also  the waterfall and mini-park that he funded at the freeway entrance to the community.  It was a site that the state was planning to develop for a park-and-ride location, but Tony Mistlin had other more positive ideas.

The Mistlin Sports Park has become the nucleus of the annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival as well as the Color the Skies hot air balloon event.  It is booked year-round for traveling soccer and baseball teams bringing out-of-town business into the community.

The 20-acre property is contiguous to the east side of the existing park on the north side of River Road.  City Attorney Tom Terpstra told council members that there would be no cost to the city in accepting the property. All costs are being absorbed by the donation.  

Terpstra said that until such time as the city is ready to expand the park it may realize income from renting out the farming operation and the residence as well. He explained that the house can potentially be rented out for $800 to $1,200 a month.  The almonds should net the city in excess of $10,000 a year on a 70/30 lease, he added.

A portion of the property was once considered as a future site for a fire department – a possibility that might again be in the planning as “Mistlin Station,” one community leader in the audience noted.

Mayor Chuck Winn lauded Mistlin for his continuing generosity toward the city praising the existing sports complex as one of the most premier facilities in the State of California.  And now this donation will allow the city to expand the use of the sports park, he said.  Council members voted unanimously to accept the donation, each adding their appreciation.

Mistlin also made possible an interactive water play feature at the park where there is also an amphitheatre in place. The sports park also has a statue of Willie McCovey and a replica of the San Francisco Giants Coca-Cola bottle donated by Mistlin in honor of his long-time friend Willie McCovey. The two met while selling cars on San Francisco’s Auto Row along Van Ness Avenue.