Funds to be spent on Placerita Canyon center renovation

first_img A co-author of Proposition A, a measure passed by voters in 1992 that earmarked funds to enlarge the natural area, applauded the county’s plans but scratched her head about the 13-year delay. “If it’s a jewel, how come it’s been since 1992 that the jewel hasn’t gotten the million-dollar polish?” said local environmental activist Karen Pearson. Park officials named a trail in the Placerita Canyon natural area after Pearson this week in recognition of her long-standing efforts to preserve the park and open space in the valley. A county official said a stipulation that the money had to be used to buy land – an effort that had faltered – was the culprit. “That explains the years where nothing went on,” said Ilona Volkmann, an administrator with the county Regional Park and Open Space District. The Board of Supervisors expanded the parameters in 1998. Questions have been raised about how interest earned on the money is spent. Volkmann said revenue from a variety of parcels is pooled in one account and spent as needed and the interest is not isolated piece by piece. When a proposition designates that a particular sum be used for a property, any interest earned is not included in the eventual outlay; it remains within the district, she said. The interest is split among the five county supervisors, and must be spent within the parameters specified by the proposition, Volkmann said. Park supporters also were irked when $200,000 earmarked for Placerita was diverted to completing a new nature center in San Dimas Canyon. Wallensak said that center was in need at the time. The parklands are owned by the state, but the county operates the facility and maintains the grounds without any help from the state. If there are no hitches, the Placerita renovations could start in November 2006 and be complete the following October, Guinea said. Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “We’re very happy to finally be able to use some of the proposition money, glad there is a property owner willing to sell,” Swift said. A few months ago the county made a $1.5 million offer to buy 80 acres east of the Placerita Canyon natural area and and is still awaiting the property owner’s decision. Riparian areas rich with oak trees stud the open space, which is dotted with historical cabins and foundations left over from the turn-of-the-century buildings. Negotiator Don Simpson, a principal analyst in the county’s Chief Administrative Office, said he hopes to get an answer in the next few days. Two years ago, the county handed off the task of running the nature center to a nonprofit group because funding had dried up. “Placerita is one of the gems of our park system,” said Russ Guinea, director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation. “Two years ago we asked the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to operate (the park), which it did for six months (because) we were in crisis. Now we’re not in that dilemma.” The dilemma stemmed from 15 years of eroded funding for upkeep at county parks and a recession in the 1990s that sent the state snatching funds from local governments to help balance its budget. Last year’s passage of Proposition 1A helped resolve the latter woe, and the Board of Supervisors enhanced the department’s budget as of July 1. NEWHALL – After years of false starts, Los Angeles County plans to spend about $3.5 million to expand and refurbish the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, which welcomes thousands of schoolchildren each year to learn about the great outdoors. Funding from a bond approved 13 years ago by voters is finally being spent to acquire land next to the Newhall center and allow for nearly $1.3 million in refurbishments. The money comes from Proposition A and other sources, said Lyn Wallensak, administrative deputy for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. The measure provides $1 million to expand the nature center, $800,000 of which will be used. In 1996, a supplemental measure added an additional $500,000 for acquisition or renovations and more than $600,000 was provided by state grants. Among the renovations planned are to improve access for disabled visitors, replace the bridge that leads to the picnic area, fireproof the nature center and the historic Walker cabin on the grounds, and renovate water and septic systems. Construction documents are about three-quarters done, said Ian Swift, the center’s director and supervisor of the park. last_img

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