Gruel 'Committed' to Golf Course

"I remain committed to the efforts to preserve the Verdugo Hills Golf Course and we will continue to look at funding options on the city, county and state level," Los Angeles Councilwoman Wendy Gruel said this week.

A number of local residents wanting to preserve the course have expressed concern about the news that owners MWH Development Corporation have submitted a new plan for the property that eliminates any recreation use.

A committee has formed, with Crescenta Valley leaders Richard Toyon and Sharon Hales as members, to advocate for preservation of the property.

An earlier plan called for retaining a nine-hole course as part of a 269-unit condominium development.

The new plan, which has just started a probable lengthy process with the city, calls for 229 larger units and no course.

The issue to preserving the course remains in finding the money to purchase it, and Tujunga and La Crescenta residents have joined forces to look for a solution.

"We have a limited amount of open space in the City of Los Angeles and I have worked to preserve parkland for our children and grandchildren," stated Greuel. "In the Verdugo Mountains we were able to leverage Prop K funds to purchase 265 acres of untouched open space."

The company purchased the golf course property for $7.6 million in 2004. The committee to preserve the course is asking Los Angeles, Glendale and the county to join in the preservation effort.

In a May letter to Gruel, Supervisor Mike Antonovich endorsed saving the property.

He said, "The project includes high-density condominiums that are incompatible with the relatively low-density neighborhoods that surround the property. Tujunga Canyon Boulevard and other area roadways are already highly congested and cannot accommodate the increased traffic that will be generated by this project.

"In its current form, the Verdugo Hills Golf Course is a community asset that golfers have enjoyed for decades. It is also one of the few privately-owned golf courses that is affordable and accessible to the public. The loss of this recreational opportunity, as well as precious open space, would have a detrimental effect on the surrounding community."

Councilman Dave Weaver confirmed that he took part in a meeting about the golf course with Gruel and Antonovich.

"We all agreed to keep it confidential," he said.

The Glendale council member said he would like to see the property preserved in open space, if the finances can be found on the state or federal level.

"I expect Glendale will continue to watch the matter," he said.

Local historian Mike Lawler said the property was the site of a Japanese POW camp in World War II, and according to "local lore" was a stopping off point for groups during Spanish California Days.

"We at least want to see a plaque installed," he said, adding that he supports preserving the golf course.

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