Harvard-Westlake begins push for approval of River Park sports complex
It has been 3½ years since Harvard-Westlake paid more than $40 million to purchase the 16-acre Weddington Golf & Tennis facility with the idea of turning it into an athletics complex.
The first-draft plan for the River Park project was released in 2019. River Park is located at Whitsett Avenue adjacent to the Los Angeles River in Studio City.
Now the school has begun a public relations offensive on social media trying to show that it has listened to community concerns about noise, lights and traffic, found solutions, and continues to move forward while trying to build support for what could be a $100-million project. It will include two sports fields, two gyms, eight tennis courts, a 50-meter pool, a 500-car underground parking lot, walking and jogging trails, and a sophisticated stormwater capture and reuse system.
The next big step coming this fall is release of an environmental impact report, which will result in hearings and more community feedback. The school filed an initial application for a conditional use permit last year. The City Council has final approval.
The project is still probably two years away from breaking ground if given approval, and two years from finishing after that.
The school has sought to address concerns of neighbors by promising there would be no outdoor activities after 8 p.m. and by including an underground parking lot in the plans so visitors won’t be tempted to park on nearby streets, according to school spokesman Ari Engelberg. Lighting at two fields will be modified to reduce effects on neighboring residences.
The school’s basketball games would be played at the new facility, along with soccer, lacrosse, water polo, swimming, volleyball and wrestling. Football games would continue to be played on Harvard-Westlake’s main Coldwater Canyon campus field. Students would be shuttled to the new facility during the afternoon.
Community concerns also include the planned removal of several hundred trees. Engelberg said more than half are palm trees that will be replaced with a variety more suited to the changing environment. He said 12 million gallons of water are currently used each year and that will be reduced to 3 million helped by synthetic turf fields.
Engelberg said facilities will be available for public use when not used by students. The current clubhouse will be remodeled and the putting green will stay, along with a cafe, and a golf simulator will be added.
“This is truly a facility for public benefit,” he said.
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