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Air Force, City Reach Agreement on Use of Parks for Housing

December 11, 1986|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force James F. Boatright has signed a controversial agreement with the city of Los Angeles that allows military housing to be built at Bogdanovich park in San Pedro and on an 11.3-acre parcel at nearby White Point Park.

The agreement requires the federal government to grant the city clear legal title to 100 acres of White Point, which city officials hope to preserve as an oceanfront state park. The remaining 1.4 acres of the 112.7-acre park will serve as a buffer zone between the housing and the park, according to the agreement.

Both White Point and the 22-acre Bogdanovich Recreation Center were once part of the Ft. MacArthur Army base. They were declared surplus land by the federal government in 1978 and deeded to the city with the provision that land could be reclaimed "for national defense purposes."

U.S. Government to Regain Title

Under the agreement, announced Wednesday, the federal government would regain title to the entire 22 acres at Bogdanovich park, the 11.3-acre parcel on the northern edge of White Point and the buffer zone. Air Force officials said they intend to build 170 single-family homes at the two sites for officers at its Space Division in El Segundo.

"It has always been our goal to preserve this valuable coastal property for future generations while accommodating the Air Force's request for much-need housing," said City Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, who, as San Pedro's representative, led the city's negotiations with the Air Force.

"There were a lot of very important considerations that had to be balanced throughout this complex process, and we believe that this conclusion will benefit the entire community," Flores said.

However, the agreement, which goes to the city's Recreation and Parks Commission for approval on Dec. 19 and then must be approved by the City Council, has angered youth groups that play soccer at Bogdanovich park as well as the family of Martin J. Bogdanovich, the founder of Star-Kist Foods and a longtime San Pedro resident and community activist who died in 1944.

In announcing the agreement, Flores and Mayor Tom Bradley, whose office participated in the negotiations, named a 14-member committee to search for new locations for soccer fields and to come up with other locations to name after Bogdanovich.

Critics of the agreement say the committee is not enough.

"They are going to have one heck of a time finding a place and they know it," said Bob Bryant, regional commissioner in San Pedro for the American Youth Soccer Organization.

'Kids Don't Count'

Bryant said about 1,200 children play soccer at the park each year.

"It seems that the kids don't count," he said. "I can guarantee that if those 1,200 were able to vote, this fiasco wouldn't have occurred."

Mary Bogdanovich Dexter, one of Martin J. Bogdanovich's children who was instrumental in getting the park dedicated in his name in 1983, said the family has hired an attorney to see what can be done to block the agreement.

Dexter called the demise of Bogdanovich park "terrible."

"We won't accept this at all," she said.

Boatright's signature comes five months after negotiators for the city and the Air Force reached a tentative agreement on the housing, which the Air Force originally wanted to build on a 50-acre chunk of White Point.

Precluding a Park

City officials opposed that plan because of warnings from state park officials that a large housing development at the former Nike missile site would kill any state interest in developing a park there. The committee appointed by Flores and Bradley also will look into starting negotiations for a state park.

In an effort to reach a compromise, the city offered Bogdanovich park and a smaller portion of White Point for the housing development. Air Force officials resisted, however, saying they preferred building the 170 units together.

In July, Lt. Gen. Forrest S. McCartney, then commander of the Air Force Space Division, ended a 2 1/2-year standoff over the issue when he accepted the compromise, even though he continued to voice objections to it.

Lt. Gen. Aloysius G. Casey, the current commander, on Wednesday hailed the agreement as a crucial means for the Air Force "to attract and keep qualified officers in Los Angeles to help develop our nation's space program."

The Air Force has agreed to delay construction at Bogdanovich until after the American Youth Soccer Organization playoffs in March, an Air Force spokeswoman said.

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