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Sail America Will Help Boy Scouts Finance Fiesta Island Aquatic Center

Times Staff Writer

Borrowing a page from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, the Sail America Foundation announced Thursday that it has committed itself to helping the Boy Scouts finance an America’s Cup Youth Aquatic and Sailing Center on Mission Bay.

The center will be used in part to introduce poor and minority youngsters to water sports such as sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and rowing.

Construction of the center, at Enchanted Cove on the east side of Fiesta Island, is scheduled to start next spring. It will cover 21,000 square feet and be able to handle 100 to 150 youngsters a day.

The San Diego County Council of the Boy Scouts has been working on the plan about two years and has obtained a 20-year lease on the public property from the city of San Diego, said Ron Brundage, executive director of the council. The council is running a limited program at the site this year.

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Although the aquatic center will be operated by the Boy Scouts, it will be open to all youths. Officials for both the Scouts and Sail America emphasized that they will actively recruit minority children to participate, relying on an extensive network of social and community agencies, such as Barrio Station, to reach children who have neither encouragement to try nor access to water sports.

1st, 2nd Phases

It is estimated that the first phase of the project will cost $1 million, including $750,000 to $800,000 to build the center and another $250,000 to outfit it with boats and maintain it. The second phase calls for creation of a $1-million endowment fund to be used to offset expenses and keep rates at a minimum, as well as provide money to replace boats.

Exactly how much Sail America will contribute toward the $2-million goal is not known. According to both Linc Ward, a Boy Scout executive committee member, and Malin Burnham, president of Sail America, a detailed fund-raising plan has not been put together, mainly because of Sail America’s distraction with the maverick challenge lodged for the America’s Cup by New Zealand.

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Burnham said that Sail America has not only committed itself to help in the initial fund-raising effort but has plans to use a method pioneered by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee four years ago.

That committee relied on major contributions from corporate sponsors and ended up with a surplus after the Games were over. Money from the multimillion-dollar surplus has been distributed to help youth recreation projects in poor and minority areas of Los Angeles.

Months-Long Competition

Should Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes retain the America’s Cup by defeating the Kiwi challenge either today or Sunday, as is expected, the next Cup regatta will occur in 1991, but rather than an abbreviated contest between only two countries, it will be a months-long competition with as many as 20 or 25 countries. To put on such a regatta, Sail America will rely heavily on corporate sponsorship.

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And, Burnham said, Sail America, a nonprofit organization, will expect to have a surplus after the regatta, part of which would be used for the youth aquatic center on Fiesta Island.

If successful in San Diego, the idea could be adopted nationwide, officials said, noting that youth and adult sailing programs such a Sail Phoenix or Sail St. Louis could be established.

‘Positive’ Opportunity

Ward said that the sailing center, which will be open any time school is not in session, will be an alternative for “latchkey kids, those in a single-parent syndrome” and those tempted by youth gangs. “This would give them the opportunity to come and do something . . . positive,” Ward said, adding that the state of California had provided some grants to help get the project off the ground.

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