Back in l968, people up and down Napa Valley were debating the proposed Agricultural Preserve. It was a measure which determined to preserve agricultural land in a valley which was threatened with massive subdivision development.
The Ag Preserve was controversial, and some said, the first time such an idea had been broached in the United States. It was a pioneering thing. The discussions reached us up here on Howell Mountain and therein lies a story.
One of the most devout supporters of the proposed Ag Preserve was Warren Winiarski. He was a former lecturer in liberal arts at the University of Chicago, who had a dream of becoming a grape grower and vintner. Warren and Barbara had moved to Angwin at the time, and they became advocates for the new Ag Preserve idea. To their pleasure, they discovered that Jack Christensen, a plumber and popular civic leader, shared their views.
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So Warren communicated his wider-world philosophy to Jack and Jack communicated his enthusiasm to the Angwin Chamber of Commerce (now known as the Angwin Community Council). Together they brought the community into the conservation idea.
The Angwin Chamber became the first Chamber of Commerce in the county to endorse the Ag Preserve.
Thus the Ag preserve debate brought this little village into common cause with the wider world of Napa County. For many residents it was a theological idea that we must be stewards of the land. They may have had raising prunes in mind but they agreed with Warren that agricultural soil should not be paved over. Today, Angwinites drive down the Silverado Trail and they see a carpet of green, not a spread of residential subdivisions and blacktop streets, one after another. Thanx to the Ag. Preserve.
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Through the years, Angwin has continued to hold its conservation view. We voted for Measure A, which would restrict growth to 1% a year, for Measure J which would give people the vote for or against any proposed commercial or residential project on agricultural land, for Measure P which would extend Measure J for decades.
This is a little history lesson for Pacific Union College trustees who decided a few years ago to sell off hundreds of acres of agricultural land for urban residential projects. Of the 22 PUC trustees, only three lived in Napa County. They would not know that their proposal for 580 housing units in Angwin would deeply offend a community which had developed an affection for the green fields in the heart of the village and Angwin's wonderful natural environment of woodlands and meadows.
It was 44 years ago that this community began to discuss the value of these things, and that discussion has brought us to where we are today. Thanks to a University lecturer in liberal arts and a local plumber who shared a pioneering idea.