City approves final plan for education center at Deukmejian Wilderness Park

Roosevelt Middle School students document biodiversity during Bio Blitz event at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, in Glendale on Oct. 11, 2017.
Roosevelt Middle School students document biodiversity during Bio Blitz event at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, in Glendale on Oct. 11, 2017.
(Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

The 26-year-old vision for an education center at Deukmejian Wilderness Park in north Glendale is one step closer to reality, following a vote by the Glendale City Council Tuesday.

The 709-acre park near the San Gabriel Mountains has 7 miles of recreational trails. About 12 of those acres are home to a park center and the historic Le Mesnager Barn, built between 1914 and 1918, according to city documents.

After a unanimous vote by council members, city staff will proceed with a master plan that will renovate the park and barn. Part of the barn would be used as what the city calls an “interpretive center” for nature education. The plan concludes a project first drafted in 1991. The city acquired the park in 1988 for $5.2 million.

Since that time, millions of dollars have been invested on a structural assessment, construction of 4½ miles of trails as well as the park center, picnic shelters, an amphitheater and restrooms.

During the past decade, numerous seismic, plumbing and electrical upgrades have been made to the barn.

“It’s really a remarkable place. It’s looking nicer and … more like a facility that lends itself toward not only events but educational and social events,” said Councilman Zareh Sinanyan, who is also a former parks commissioner.

The approved master plan will address the interpretive center’s conceptual design and is the final part of the project, which entails improvements to the barn’s interior and installation of amenities that will include displays, exhibits and audio/visual equipment. New restrooms, signage and some landscaping are also part of the plan.

Those portions are currently funded, and city staff members are seeking county and state funds for additional site improvements such as a larger south patio, concession stands, a wilderness-themed playground and overflow parking.

At the council meeting, Onnig Bulanikian, community services and parks director, laid out ideas for the site once the project is completed.

“Some interpretive [center] themes our consultant came up with were … topography, different types of animals living in our mountains, fire prevention, planting, trail management and the historical contributions from the La Crescenta area up to Los Angeles,” he said.

Bulanikian added he hopes to partner with the Glendale Unified School District and other local schools for recreational programming at the facility.

The city has a $1.8-million budget for the final portion of the project, and a construction cost estimate will be available once the schematic design is completed.

Twitter: @JeffLanda