Money-Making Concessions Weighed for Valley Parks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In search of additional revenues for the cash-strapped Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department, city officials began Wednesday to consider new money-making concessions for city parks, including food outlets, golf courses and batting cages at San Fernando Valley parks.

Among the largest concessions proposed to the Recreation and Parks Commission were water slides for the Hansen Dam Recreation Area, a go-cart race track at North Hollywood Park and two executive golf courses at the Chatsworth Reservoir.

Councilman Hal Bernson and several environmental groups were quick to criticize proposed plans for the 1,300-acre Chatsworth Reservoir.

At the commission meeting, during which no formal action was taken, the reservoir was described as a "very important piece of wildlife habitat" by Muriel S. Kotin, San Fernando Valley Audubon Society president. "To develop it would be absolutely the wrong thing to do," she said.

Peter Ireland, president of the Coalition to Save the Sepulveda Basin, agreed. "I ask you not to go forward with this," he told the commission.

Bernson, whose district includes the reservoir, said in an interview before the meeting that he will fight any development plans because he wants to preserve land at the reservoir for hiking and wildlife.

"It will never happen while I'm here," he said.

Bernson said the reservoir is also a crucial stopping-off point for migrating Canada geese.

"It's basically one of the last open spaces we have left," he said.

But another Valley councilman, Richard Alarcon, said he is eager to consider ideas for concessions in his district, including the water slides and a recreational vehicle park for Hansen Dam.

He said he has scheduled five community meetings in his district to allow residents to discuss the ideas. The first meeting took place Wednesday in Lake View Terrace. The next will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Sylmar Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave.

"Actually, I'm very excited," he said.

Recreation officials stressed that before any of the proposals are adopted, public hearings will be held in communities surrounding parks where the concessions are proposed.

The concession ideas were drafted by Recreation and Parks Department staff in response to a request by commissioners who wanted to find more ways to squeeze money out of the parks, department Manager Jackie Tatum said.

She said the department will not move ahead with any of the ideas until the commission decides to look more closely at the options.

"Right now, this is just an informational item," Tatum said.

Tatum said she could not guess how many concessions may be approved or how much money they may generate. But she said current concessions in city parks generate about $23 million for the department's $89-million annual budget.

"The commission is just trying to be proactive in funding our department," Tatum said.

Mayor Richard Riordan's proposed budget for the next fiscal year calls for a cut of $2.8 million in the department's budget and 90 positions over the current year.

"It's just a situation that exists and what we are trying to do is to be practical about it," Tatum said.

Proposed Concessions In the San Fernando Valley, the parks and concessions proposed in the report are:

* Hansen Dam Recreation Area in Lake View Terrace--a recreation vehicle park, nine-hole miniature golf course and water slide.

* North Hollywood Park next to the North Hollywood police station--a go-cart race track, video arcade and food concessions.

* Chatsworth Reservoir--two nine-hole golf courses, restaurants, a driving range, family entertainment center and 18-hole putting course.

The report also suggests allowing mobile food concessions at Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Park in Sherman Oaks, Valley Plaza Park in North Hollywood, Woodland Hills Recreation Center, North Hollywood Park and Northridge Recreation Center.

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