La Cañada Council signs off on 'ultimate' deal

Years after she first dreamed it, Liz Blackwelder may finally see a water fountain for horses and humans at the Ultimate Destination lookout point in Cherry Canyon. Just don’t call it a park.

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to approve the proposal and move forward with construction on the condition that the project is no longer called the Ultimate Destination Pocket Park. Several residents said they oppose building a park in the canyon.

The Ultimate Destination, part of the 12-mile loop trail that encircles the city, is a wide spot in the Cherry Canyon trail offering views of the San Gabriel Valley, San Gabriel Mountains and La Cañada Flintridge. Blackwelder donated $35,000 to the city in 2009 to provide water for trail users.

“It was never my intent … to make it a park,” she said. “But the water is a necessity.”

The plan calls for two “bubbler” water fountains — one for humans and one for horses — as well as native oak trees to provide shade. A bench already has been installed at the lookout.

City trails coordinator Arabo Parseghian said that the city expects to break ground in November and that work may be completed by April.

But the idea brought opposition from neighbors.

Anne Karayan told the council on Monday that a park in Cherry Canyon would draw cigarette-smoking teenagers and other loiterers. Fire risk and litter would follow, she said.

“I’d like it to be a natural area that we can enjoy with our dogs, our friends,” said Karayan. “I wish you would use the money some way other than that and let the trails just be natural.”

Randy Strapazon said the bench at the Ultimate Destination and has not drawn troublemakers, and told the council she was confident that the worst predictions would not come true.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this story mistakenly indicated Strapzon is a spokesperson for the La Cañada Trails Council.

“You don’t hike in as a joke to the Ultimate Destination,” said Strapazon.

Strapazon said that the project is compatible with the L.A. County trails master plan, which dictates that trails should have water sources available every five miles.

The project, which was kick-started by Blackwelder’s donation, will cost $136,000. The city is responsible for $41,650, with grants and donations from the La Cañada Trails Council, private citizens, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Los Angeles County covering the rest.

Councilman Donald Voss said the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s $20,000 donation is a sign that it is a worthy effort.

“I think it’s a stamp of approval that this is a good project,” said Voss, who is the city’s representative on the conservancy board. “It’s a special place, and we want to share this special place with our residents.”

Blackwelder, 92, said she just wants to see the project completed, even if she no longer rides the trails.

“My horses have died, and too many of my friends have died too,” she said. “But that happens, that’s life. But please augment what the city has. It’s an incredible place to hike to, and water will make it every more enjoyable.”

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