$10 Million Sought for Valley Park Facilities

Times Staff Writer

A five-year plan that calls for spending about $10 million on parks and recreation projects in the San Fernando Valley, including the building of a senior citizens' center in Pacoima, has been recommended to the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Tom Bradley.

Another $5 million would be spent for improvements to Griffith Park.

The capital-improvement program for 1987-1991, proposed by the Recreation and Parks Department, would give the Valley more than one third of the $26 million allocated citywide.

The senior citizens' center is the most significant addition since the department released its five-year plan last year. It was included at the behest of Councilman Ernani Bernardi--Pacoima became part of his district in the council's recent reapportionment.

Approval Expected

The plan, which is expected to be approved by the Recreation and Park Commission at its next meeting Oct. 24, calls for spending $500,000 in the 1988-89 fiscal year to find and purchase a site for the center. Construction would take place in the 1990-91 fiscal year at a cost of $1.7 million.

Bernardi said he chose the center from a list of possible projects submitted to him by the parks department because of the popularity of the Van Nuys seniors' center in his old district.

The facility would offer senior citizens a wide range of services, such as free meals and recreation programs, Bernardi said.

Joel Breitbart, assistant general manager in charge of planning for the parks department, said he expects many of the projects--including top priorities like the seniors' center--to be financed through existing sources, including a $200-a-unit fee on residential construction, which generates more than $3 million a year.

But whether all the projects are funded will depend on the state Legislature's continuing to provide the city with several million dollars in aid. California voters also would have to approve a park bond issue in 1988--as they did earlier this year and in 1984--for the city to finance all the projects on the list, Breitbart said.

Park Improvements

Breitbart said the projects were recommended by senior citizens, sports groups and other community organizations as well as by City Council members and parks department staff. The projects are expected to be approved because they first were screened by the council members in whose districts they would be built.

Besides the Pacoima seniors' center, the other big Valley project in the plan is construction of a community building at the south end of Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area in Encino. Nearly $1.7 million is expected to be included in next year's budget for the project.

The building would include a gymnasium that could also be used for large meetings. The structure is being designed to accommodate an indoor swimming pool to be installed in 1991-1992 at a cost of $2.9 million.

The plan also calls for the lighting of two baseball diamonds at the park, the paving of the parking area and the development of an additional sports field at the Hjelte Sports Center at the southeast end of the park.

Funds also are provided for the development in 1989-90 of a small park with a play area to serve as a buffer area between homes in Libbit Avenue and the south end of the Sepulveda Dam wall. Also proposed is the installation of lighting for the Sepulveda Basin model-airplane field.

In Griffith Park, the plan calls for spending $1.2 million in 1990-91 to add sports fields to the Riverdale section of the park. The area, now used as an archery range, is separated from the rest of Griffith Park by the Golden State Freeway just south of the Ventura Freeway.

Under evaluation by the department is a proposal by a private company to build a water slide on the site, Breitbart said. The parks department would reevaluate its plans for the site if the park commission allows the water slide, he said.

In other parts of the plan, $1.3 million would be spent to improve the Pecan Grove area of Griffith Park, including landscaping and expanding the picnic grounds. The area lies along the south side of the Ventura Freeway between Riverside and Zoo drives.

Other projects in the plan include adding air-conditioning to the Sunland Recreation Center; lighting tennis courts at the Granada Hills, Northridge, Reseda and Sun Valley recreation centers; installing new playground equipment at the Sun Valley Recreation Center, and lighting the soccer field at Valley Plaza Recreation Center in North Hollywood.

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