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State Money Sought to Set Up Walking Tours Through City

September 19, 1985|ALEX NEILL | Times Staff Writer

Glendale city officials have applied for $37,666 in state money to help pedestrians discover "surprising Glendale" along four proposed downtown tour loops. The tours would take in such attractions as parks, historic buildings, banks, medical offices and the Galleria Central Avenue pedestrian overpass.

But one city councilman said he thinks Glendale's points of interest are obvious enough without spending taxpayers' money for lighted route markers and pamphlet-distributing information booths.

"I could see it if this were Williamsburg or Washington, D.C.--but this is Glendale," said Glendale City Councilman John F. Day. Day was absent from the Sept. 3 City Council meeting when members approved forwarding a request for money to the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which administers state funds earmarked for pedestrian and bikeway projects.

'Frivolous Use'

"I would hope that this request is turned down," Day said. He called the proposed project a "frivolous use of taxpayers' money" and said "there was a time in this city when an action like that would have prompted a recall movement." Day said he plans to contact county and state officials to voice his opposition to the plan.

The proposed tour routes, each estimated to take 30 to 45 minutes, would guide pedestrians "through enticing destinations as opposed to their walking aimlessly," Planning Director Gerald J. Jamriska said in a city report.

Jamriska, who developed the plan, said, "You would be amazed at the number of people who don't know what Glendale has to offer." The project is titled "Hiking on Foot in Surprising Glendale." Jamriska also pointed to the health benefits of walking.

If the request is approved, the city will next August begin 10 months' construction of information booths and lighted markers to help city hikers along four tour routes. The planned 1 1/2- to three-mile routes are through the financial district and Fremont Park; the north-central business district; the south business district and historic downtown sites. The routes are designed for easy access to the Bee Line, a Glendale shuttle-bus system.

$235,000 Received Since '74

According to Glendale planning associate Debby Parks, Glendale since 1974 has received $235,000 in state Transportation Development Act funds earmarked for pedestrian and bikeway projects. All but $22,000 of that was spent on improvements in the downtown redevelopment area; the rest was used in 1980 to build a bicycle bridge over a Verdugo Park Creek. Glendale did not apply for the funds in 1978 and 1979 because it could not come up with a suitable project, Parks said.

Erica Goebel, a County Transportation Commission spokeswoman, said Glendale's current proposal appears to meet the criteria, but called it "a bit unusual." She said typically the money goes toward sidewalk or bike-path improvements.

The proposed financial district and Fremont Park route includes several banks, offices and condominiums next to the Ventura Freeway near Brand Boulevard, extending west past Pacific Avenue to the recreation center at Fremont Park.

The other three tour routes encompass the retail shopping stretch on Brand near the Galleria, then branch several blocks east and west to include some sites of historical value, such as homes and business locations of early Glendale settlers.

Chamber Expressed Interest

Glendale Chamber of Commerce officials have contacted the planning department to express interest in the project.

"We support anything that brings in visitors that are going to pass by local businesses," said Betty Shermer, office manager for the chamber.

Also designated as points of interest on the tours are a mortuary, a chiropractic college, a commercial planned development district and a "view to Galleria Overpass Bridge," the pedestrian walkway over Central Avenue.

The County Transportation Commission is scheduled to act on the request by Oct. 18.

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