SAN PEDRO — A citizens' group trying to relocate a soccer field at the Martin J. Bogdanovich Recreation Center last week proposed moving the field temporarily to an old hand-grenade range on what was the upper reservation of the Ft. MacArthur Army base.
The group asked the city of Los Angeles to open negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which owns the former range and holds summer camping programs there, to use it as a soccer field beginning in September. The property is next to the city-owned Angels Gate Park.
Members of the White Point Citizens Advisory Committee also asked officials from the city's Department of Recreation and Parks to explore the possibility of permanently developing several soccer fields on nearby school district property, also on the former upper reservation. Committee members said the property could be leased from the school district, or possibly swapped for city-owned property.
Georgiann Rudder, the department's assistant general manager, said her department would look into both requests and report to the committee within six weeks.
The committee, established by harbor-area Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, is searching for a new home for soccer and softball fields at Bogdanovich park, which must close April 1 to make way for an Air Force housing development. In a hard-fought compromise, expected to be approved by the City Council next month, the city agreed to turn over Bogdanovich park and about 13 acres of White Point park to the Air Force for military housing.
Give Up Rights
In return, the Air Force agreed to give up all rights to the remaining 100 acres of White Point, which the city hopes to preserve as an oceanfront state park. Both parks were once part of Ft. MacArthur, but the land was declared surplus by the federal government in the 1970s and deeded to the city with the provision that it could be reclaimed for national defense purposes.
In endorsing the controversial agreement, Flores pledged to relocate the soccer field before the start of the American Youth Soccer Organization season in August. Leaders of the soccer group have opposed the agreement because it would displace the 1,200 children who play soccer at Bogdanovich park.
Committee Chairman Jerry L. Gaines said the former hand-grenade range could serve as a temporary home for the soccer league while the committee searches for a permanent site. Gaines said the committee would need to find a second interim site for the month of August, since school district campers use the range through early September.
But Bob Bryant, regional commissioner for the soccer league, said last week that he doubted the city could convert the old hand-grenade range into a soccer field--even by September.
"There are weeds six inches high and rocks all over the place," he said. "It would take approximately a year to plant grass on the site so that it would be safe for the children. I won't let any child in my program play on a field that isn't safe."
In addition to the school district property on the former upper reservation, the committee is considering sites at county-owned Friendship Park, which is next to the city's San Pedro Park, for permanent fields, committee members said.
Gaines said the committee has already made arrangements with the city of Rancho Palos Verdes for temporary use of its Ladera Linda Recreation Center for San Pedro softball teams that play at Bogdanovich park.