Water Tower Hill Bench Site

In 2008, a local Boy Scout received permission from the Strawberry Recreation District to remove an old bench at Water Tower Hill, at the end of Inez Place in the Strawberry enclave of Mill Valley, and replace it with a memorial bench and plaque dedicated to a childhood friend who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge earlier that year.

Last July, the bench suddenly went missing, unilaterally removed by Kelly Neil, a neighbor claiming the bench was illegally installed on his unimproved stretch of land that leads from Inez to the top of the hill and that the bench at Strawberry Vista was creating a public nuisance.

A subsequent district survey discovered the original bench site was, indeed, 4 feet into Neil’s property. But according to district officials, “Neil was likely unaware of that until it was noted by the survey.”

After a contentious public hearing on the issue at the end of last year, and despite Neil’s protests, two new benches were installed on the Water Tower Hill site, but on the other side of Neil’s property line.

And yesterday, Neil’s 4,372 square foot home and property at 114 Inez Place hit the market listed for $10.881 million.

114 Inez Place

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by matteo

    why does socketsite try to make kelly neil the bad guy in this story? using words like “unilaterally removed”, heck the bench was in neil’s property! and it doesn’t matter neil was “unlikely unaware” the bench was “4 feet” into the property….4 feet or 2 inches- the bench was in neil’s property and neil did not want it there…end of story!

    • Posted by SocketSite

      We outlined the facts as cleanly as possible, you made the judgment call. A more meaningful discussion would be around adverse possession and property rights, or you can waste your time dissecting our (accurate) choice of words.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Regardless of private property rights law merits, “unilaterally removed” as in “instead of notifying someone, trying to work with the Boy Scouts on relocating the bench”, etc., he decided to go curmudgeonly old man and rip out the bench – *before*, as the article notes, he could have likely even known for certain that the bench was on his property.

      Good riddance.

      • Posted by yip

        Breaking News: “Curmudgy old man lists house for vastly more than worth”

        • Posted by Native

          Why is it OK to say “old guy”? What if I said the Curmudgy “black, white, gay, fat, short, Greek” or any other description you people would have jumped out of your skin. Leave the old guys alone.

  2. Posted by Stop Driving

    No telling of this story paints Neil in a good light. I hope this hous lingers on the market until the next recession and sells for a fraction of the ask and is then demoed and turned into a Boy Scout lodge.

  3. Posted by Johnnymoto

    Regardless of the bench location, it’s a callous move to remove the bench, especially if there was a legible plaque commemorating it. Scouts ‘doing a good turn’ per one of their mottos have gained a lot of positive publicity here…landowner, not so much.

  4. Posted by WillyWanker

    If I didn’t despise all things Boy Scout so much, I’d fall in line with the “the-guy’s-an-a*hole-crowd,” but Boy Scouts? F*k’em and their bench.

    • Posted by Brian M

      I know their bad faith on LGBTQ issues is questionable to many, but this seems quite harsh. Especially given that it was a memorial to a lost friend.

  5. Posted by DM

    I guess they’re not an “exclusive” enough organization for the offended property owner.

  6. Posted by ralph

    The owner certainly did not handle the situation well. I do understand why he’d be unhappy to find teenagers having sex on benches installed 4′ into his property.

  7. Posted by jenofla

    I find it hard to believe that removing the benches would’ve stopped teenagers from smoking pot and having sex up on a popular viewpoint. If there’s a sweet place for having fun, it’s nothing that a picnic blanket wouldn’t have fixed.

    I’m having some flashbacks to high school late night antics on the foothills of Mt Diablo, none of which involved benches. Maybe the usage dropped at the initial shock of bench removal, but Mr Neil unfortunately lives next to a publicly accessible trail with a nice view that became popular and I’m not sure the ending would’ve been different even if bench removal succeeded. An unfortunate situation all around.

  8. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: The list price for 114 Inez Place has just been reduced by $1,386,000 (13 percent), now asking $9,495,000.

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