CHATSWORTH : Center for Disabled May Get New Role

When the Chatsworth Park Adaptive Center was built three years ago at a cost of $224,000, it was the first recreation center specifically for the disabled in Los Angeles.

The center has since spawned four replicas. The newest opened last week in South-Central Los Angeles, and it may soon become the model for a central hub for disabled recreation services in the San Fernando Valley.

That means that the Chatsworth center, once a flagship, might soon be relegated to the status of a satellite facility in a citywide network of recreational services for disabled people, said Gat Lum, supervisor of special recreational services for the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department.

The adaptive center, which includes a gym where exercise classes for the disabled are taught and a specially designed play park with wide ramps and equipment for disabled children, is situated too far from the center of the Valley and is difficult to reach by bus, Lum said. Lately, another problem has surfaced. An underground river, swollen with water from last winter's rains, has leaked into the play park, forcing its closure for the past several weeks, said Bob Landrum, Chatsworth Park director.

Recreational services for the disabled have gained new importance since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which took effect in January. The act requires equal access to services in the public and private sector for people with disabilities, Lum said.

"We want to make our services more cohesive and expand it to include as many people as possible," Lum said.

Plans call for the Recreation and Parks Department to purchase a centrally located site in the Valley within about two years. Such a site would provide a home for a larger version of the Chatsworth Park Adaptive Center, which would double as an information clearinghouse for all disabled services in the region, Lum said. Funding is slated to come from Los Angeles County Proposition A revenues, a countywide bond issue approved by voters in November. That measure provided about $22 million for city parks.

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