City and federal officials Wednesday hammered out a tentative agreement with a former jockey to rebuild the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in Lake View Terrace.
The accord among Eddie Milligan, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and city Department of Recreation and Parks appears to end almost four years of jurisdictional battles over the facility, located on a federal flood basin.
City and federal officials plan to finalize the agreement during the next six months, said Jim Andervich, the Department of Recreation and Parks’ assistant general manager for the San Fernando Valley.
The agreement would free Milligan to finish converting an aging equestrian center into a first-class complex with tracks, rings, tack room and clubhouse. With a few exceptions, horse owners and community groups have rallied for the facility, much of which already has been completed.
Milligan ran afoul of the Conservation Corps four years ago, when he began erecting new buildings and arenas without approval from the corps, which administers flood basins below federal dams, such as Hansen Dam.
The city, which leases the land from the corps, had granted Milligan a franchise agreement to restore and run the facility in 1989. He did not, however, seek permission from the corps, and says that he didn’t know he was supposed to.
But on Wednesday, Milligan promised to get prior approval from the corps for future construction, and the corps promised to stop fighting him over what he has already built. Milligan also will stake down his mobile homes to prevent them from floating away in a flood.
“It was a very peaceful, very nice meeting,” said Rose Castaneda, an administrative assistant to Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City).
“I think we’re on the road to completing the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center,” said Castaneda, who called the meeting and acted as mediator.
Milligan, who said he has invested $2.5 million in the facility already, said he was pleased with the accord. “I feel very confident that the corps is listening and we are all working together,” he said. “If this thing wasn’t so expensive and complicated, it would be funny.”
A corps spokesman said the meeting was positive and all parties were working together.
So far, the city is pleased with the center, which now includes stall or paddock areas for 200 horses, 16 riding arenas and a clubhouse, said Andervich.
“Eddie (Milligan) and I had our differences,” Andervich said, “but I do respect his ability and desire to establish a first-class operation. It went from being a Yugo to a Ferrari.”