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"If I had my way, yes," Barella said Friday.

He said it will cost too much to bring tractors and other equipment to remove the 50-gallon drums, appliances and other junk just from areas away from the historic structures.

"I'm not going to go out there and hand-pick everything. If I go out there, I'm going to clean it up at all once," he said. "I'm not going to bring tractors, dump trucks one at a time. I'm going to move in one time, clean it up and leave."

The property's only access point is a small road over railroad tracks at a bend in Lakeville Street, which leads to an odd-shaped parcel hidden from view, separated by a parking lot where Clover Stornetta parks its truck trailers.

The seclusion makes it attractive to criminals and homeless, Lyons said.

It is also one reason development proposals have fallen through. Without a second access — likely a costly bridge over the river that would require federal permission — development can't be approved.

Now, SMART, which is planning rail service on the tracks, wants to block the only remaining access point, Garcia said.

SMART officials didn't respond to calls seeking comment.

Garcia said permits are ready to be picked up for Barella to clean the site and demolish the rotted-out structures — except the Bloom-Tunstall house and the stone foundation of a second structure, which may have been the site of Petaluma's first hotel catering to those San Francisco visitors.

Because of documented Indian middens on the site, no underground work or grading can be done, Garcia said.

Barella said he isn't starting any work until he hears from the city's historic preservation committee, which meets March 25. "I don't have a permit to do anything," he said. "I don't know if we're going to develop the land or sell it as-is. I don't know what we're going to do with it."

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.)