Santa Clarita Moves to Annex Park the County Can No Longer Maintain : Recreation: If all goes well, people who visit Bouquet Park won't notice the change in ownership.


A park that Los Angeles County officials say they can no longer afford to maintain will probably be rescued by the city.

The Santa Clarita City Council voted Tuesday to start the application process to annex the 10.5-acre Bouquet Park now owned by the county.

If all goes well, park-goers will hardly notice the change in ownership.

City softball, basketball, tennis and other programs are already offered at the park throughout the year by an arrangement Santa Clarita has had with the county.

"We've always used it for our programs and facilities," said Rick Putnam, director of the city Parks, Recreation and Community Services department.

While recreation activities will continue, officials say the workload of another park is a strain for city workers. There are currently 10 city parks in Santa Clarita.

"It is a real stretch on our staffing," Putnam said.

Santa Clarita has actually been leasing Bouquet Park for $1 since last fall, when Los Angeles County began jettisoning its recreation areas to reduce maintenance costs. A total of 11 county parks are now leased to cities and an environmental group is acting as the temporary caretaker of another, according to Joan Rupert, facilities planner for the county's Parks and Recreation Department.

Santa Clarita is among the first of the cities to annex the parks, an action supported by the county.

"Our financial status hasn't changed," Rupert said. Santa Clarita's application to take over Bouquet Park must be approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission, the county's boundary-setting agency. The review process is expected to take six months to a year.

In other business Tuesday, council members discussed a change made in the work schedule for city employees earlier this year that has them staying longer each workday in exchange for receiving every other Friday off.

The modified schedule was enacted to meet South Coast Air Quality Management District requirements that call for agencies with 100 or more workers to reduce car trips.

While it is difficult to track the actual air quality benefit, residents have certainly noticed the City Hall closures. This month, city employees had three Fridays off, including one that stretched the Labor Day weekend into a four-day holiday.

"I am not happy with this program," said Councilwoman Jan Heidt. "I have not been happy from the beginning."

Most of the council members said they've received calls and letters from citizens about the closures, and said they would like to explore alternatives.

City employees previously worked a modified schedule with half of them off Mondays, but department heads said the half-staffing days were not productive.

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