Overnight campgrounds nestled among Glendale's 5,000-plus acres of open space are on the drawing board as city parks officials launch two public input meetings next week.
Jeff Weinstein, the city's trails and open-space specialist, said his staff hopes to create two campgrounds in the Verdugo Mountains, Deukmejian Wilderness Park or the San Rafael Hills. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and local church groups would be the likely users of the reservation-only sites, he said.
"Rather than driving hundreds of miles to a state park or forest, we want to give people a first taste of outdoor life," Weinstein said. "Right now, a lot of youth haven't had that experience. They are indoors texting and playing with computers."
Weinstein said officials have identified more than two dozen possible campground sites, and hope to create one drive-in facility and a hike-in campground.
Weinstein said possibilities include a drive-in site at Deukmejian Wilderness Park in the San Gabriel Mountains and a hike-in site in the Verdugo Mountains. He said both areas would be dedicated to "primitive camping" — without electricity. The city would consider budget constraints when deciding whether to provide amenities such as potable water or permanent restrooms, he said.
Rich Toyon, a local Boy Scout troop leader and conservationist, already leads Troop 317 into the hills for overnight camping with city permission, and said he strongly favors building campgrounds.
When the city began acquiring open space decades ago, one goal was to make the land accessible to the public, he added.
"I think they are making good on that promise," said Toyon, who also serves as a board member for Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment.
The opportunities for locals are eye-opening, he added.
"During the weekend you see Crescenta Valley residents shopping and people driving on the 210, and oftentimes the mountains are just the backdrop to their daily business," he said. "If they would just take a few minutes or a couple hours, the Verdugo Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains offer a treasure trove of beauty, experience and opportunity."
Peter Fuad of the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn. said the city must make sure to protect the quality of life of residents whose homes are near natural areas.
"In principle it's a good idea," Fuad said. "I would want to be assured there are sufficient safety, noise and supervision measures put in place. Presumably [a campground] wouldn't be in someone's backyard near the hill," he said.
The first meeting takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Dunsmore Park, 4700 Dunsmore Ave., La Crescenta. A second meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday at Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave., Glendale.
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