Money Starts to Flow for 2 Lakes in Sepulveda Basin

Times Staff Writer

The Sepulveda Basin, the San Fernando Valley’s version of New York’s Central Park, will soon get two good-sized lakes--one for a bird sanctuary and the other for public recreation--it was announced Friday.

One lake, which eventually will take up 40 to 50 acres, will be on a spot where corn now grows at the southeast corner of Balboa and Victory boulevards. It will be open to the public by the fall of 1987 for fishing and rowing, but swimming will not be allowed.

Both lakes will be filled with treated sewage water from the city’s nearby Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. State health officials do not allow swimming in reclaimed water.

The other lake, to cover 11 acres, will be on marshland just west of the San Diego Freeway and north of Burbank Boulevard. It will be one of the state’s first bird sanctuaries in a populated area, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.

Flood-Control Reservoir

The Sepulveda Basin, the biggest piece of open space left in the Valley, is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control zone leased to the City of Los Angeles for use as a 2,150-acre recreational area--more than 2 1/2 times the size of New York’s Central Park.


Plans for the lakes were part of a master plan for the basin approved by the city in 1981. Only now has money been made available for them.

Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles) held a press conference at the basin Friday to announce the availability of money for the projects.

Beilenson, whose district includes the basin, announced that President Reagan recently signed a spending bill providing $2.6 million toward the $5.2-million cost of building the first 10 acres of the recreational lake.

The Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Tom Bradley still must approve the city’s $2.6-million matching share for the project. However, Joel Breitbart, assistant general manager of the city Recreation and Parks Department, said Friday he is confident of winning the approval of the council, which has approved the project in concept.

$10-Million City Contribution

Work on 10 acres of the 40- to 50-acre lake will begin next fall, with completion expected in the fall of 1987, even though Congress and the President are not expected to act for another year on providing the additional $10 million to complete the larger lake and a nearby arts park. The city also must provide another $10 million.

The larger lake will be built on land now leased by the Corps of Engineers to Tapia Brothers Inc. for farming. Tapia Brothers will be given one year to move, said corps Col. Fred Butler.

“This is publicly owned land,” Beilenson said. “For the first time, the public is going to be able to enjoy the land.”

The construction of the 11-acre Sepulveda Basin Wetlands, meanwhile, was assured by the state Wildlife Conservation Board’s recent approval of a $495,000 grant. Funds come from an $85-million bond issue approved by voters in June, 1984, for the acquisition and development of fast-disappearing habitats for fish and wildlife.

No fishing or swimming would be allowed in the wildlife lake. Public access would be provided by a bike path.

In its application for the grant, the parks department said the basin serves as “an important area for wildlife, particularly for migrating birds.”

‘Nearly 200 Species’

The city’s application says: “Nearly 200 species of birds have been sighted in the basin, including golden eagles, prairie falcons, black-shouldered kites and the peregrine falcon. The basin also serves as a stopover for thousands of migrating Canadian geese.”

Ground breaking for the wildlife lake will be in about six months, Breitbart said. Completion is expected by the end of next year.