SAN PEDRO — In an effort to keep the California Conservation Corps at Angels Gate Park, elected officials from the harbor area are attempting to change the group's role at the park to make it more to the liking of federal officials.
At a meeting last week called by City Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, representatives of several local elected officials and the corps agreed that the city should come up with a development plan for the 65-acre park that would give the corps specific responsibilities related to the park, Flores said.
Once part of the Ft. MacArthur Army base, Angels Gate Park was given to the city of Los Angeles in 1978 by the federal government with the provision that it be used for recreational and park-related purposes only. The National Park Service has told the city that the Conservation Corps, which has operated a residential camp at the park for eight years, does not meet those criteria. The group has been given until June to find a new home.
"I think if we made enough changes and imposed new conditions, they would accept the corps as a recreational use," Flores said. "We want to come up with a plan without jeopardizing city ownership of the property."
Flores said her office will be working with the corps over the next two months to come up with a tentative agreement that she will present to Department of Interior officials in Washington in December or January.
The agreement, she said, will include specific in-kind contributions the corps would make to the city in exchange for permission to operate its camp.
Currently, the corps is required to provide 19,200 hours of work a year for the city's Department of Recreation and Parks, but Flores said the new agreement would include greater responsibilities such as security, daily maintenance and capital improvements.
"I get lots of complaints about parks because they are not maintained properly, nobody cleans them up, and people don't feel safe to go to them because of crime and gangs," Flores said.
"We have plans to develop Angels Gate, but all of these things are going to need some maintenance, some demolition of existing buildings, construction and certainly some security," she said. "If the city can get some of this furnished by the California Conservation Corps, it means the park could be developed less expensively and the public would benefit."
Flores said, however, that she will abandon her plans if U.S. Rep. Glenn M. Anderson (D-Harbor City) is successful in a separate effort to persuade Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel to overrule the National Park Service on the corps issue.
Anderson is waiting for Hodel to respond to a letter from the congressman urging intervention on behalf of the conservation group. Anderson wrote to Hodel about three weeks ago, but an aide said last week that the congressman has not received a response.
The corps, established 10 years ago by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., trains men and women between the ages of 18 and 23 and then pays them to work for the state for one year. The Angels Gate camp, one of three in the Los Angeles area, houses 82 members in abandoned military barracks.