Plans to preserve former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno’s ranch as an extension of the Environmental Center at Kendall Campus are ongoing.
“We’re in the process of finalizing the deal,” said Alan Greer, the attorney representing the family in the transfer of the property.
The residence sits in between thick layers of a variety of plants and trees on a four-acre parcel of land.
After Reno’s sister, Margaret Hurchalla, hosted a farewell get-together at the ranch on April 1, intentions of donating the property were revealed.
Both parties have to sign an agreement and then go through court approval for the land to become an addition to the Environmental Center.
The details of the pact have not been disclosed by either party.
“Once the agreement is signed, we’ll make a statement,” said Juan Mendieta, director of communications at the College. “We’re very excited about this.”
Kendall Campus is only about a 10-minute walk from the secluded property at 11200 N. Kendall Dr.
Reno’s will, prepared in 2008, first offered the opportunity to preserve the property to the University of Miami under the conditions they maintain the land’s present status.
According to Greer, “The conditions [were] to maintain the property in its current known state of perpetuity, and UM did not seem [to be able to] do it.”
The College also has the convenience of sharing a similar ecosystem to the hammock-surrounded ranch, according to Greer. The Environmental Center located on the west side of Kendall Campus, 11011 S.W. 104 St., is a nine-acre area dedicated to conserving wildlife complete with a lake, hammocks and butterfly gardens. The Center offers educational resources and opportunities for field trips and for faculty to hold classes.
The creation of the property began in 1949 when Reno’s mother, Jane Wood Reno, a writer for the Miami News, built the house. Janet’s father, Henry Reno, a Pulitzer prize-winning police reporter for the Miami Herald, was known to fill the land with various animals such as alligators, cows, snakes and racoons, according to a November 2016 Miami Herald article.
“It’s a very rustic setting,” Greer said. “It’s like you’re in a different world.”
The property has unique features, including a screened-in back porch with a long wooden table, which helped the family host parties and guests such as former President Bill Clinton. It also has a surplus of peacocks all named Horace, a tradition started by Reno’s mother when the peacock eggs she hid in the duck nests hatched, according to an April article in the Miami Herald describing the possible donation of the home.
Janet Reno had a long and illustrious career serving the public. After five terms as state attorney for Miami-Dade County, Reno became the first woman to hold the title of attorney general of the United States in 1993 under Clinton’s administration.
Reno’s career as attorney general was marked by some controversy. She approved the FBI’s decision to raid the compound of the Waco,Texas cult, Branch Davidians, which led to the deaths of more than 70 adults and children, and decorated the event with the iconic quote: “The buck stops with me.”
In 2000, Reno took responsibility for the forced, gunpoint removal of 6-year-old Cuban refugee Elián González from his relatives in Little Havana that sent him back to Cuba to his father.
But Reno also made possible the prosecutions of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, as well as those of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who were behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
In addition, under Reno, the Justice Department fought to recover the money used by the federal government to cover the costs of patients’ smoking related problems. The U.S. sued large cigarette companies over biased information on the health effects of smoking and forced tobacco companies to finance educational programs in order to warn about the dangers of smoking.