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Corps Given Another Year in Barracks at Angels Gate

February 19, 1987|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

SAN PEDRO — The California Conservation Corps, which had been told it would have to vacate former Army barracks at Angels Gate Park by June, will be allowed to remain in the buildings at least a year longer.

A request from Los Angeles city officials to permit the conservation group to stay at the park until June, 1988, was approved Tuesday by the National Park Service, according to John Cherry, associate regional director for the park service in San Francisco.

Cherry said the extension does not signal a change in the park service's position that the corps must eventually leave the 65-acre oceanview park.

"We are still talking about the CCC as temporary occupants," Cherry said this week, but he agreed to let the corps remain at the park after the city said it would move forward with the park's development.

Angels Gate, formerly part of the Ft. MacArthur Army base, was declared surplus property by the federal government and deeded to Los Angeles in 1978. The deed requires that the scenic area, which has been left largely untouched by the city, be used for recreational and park-related purposes only.

For the past eight years, the corps has occupied about 20 former barracks under an agreement with the city that requires the group to work at various public parks in return for free rent.

Does Not Qualify

But in spite of the work the corps performs for the city, the parks service maintains that the CCC housing does not qualify as a recreational use. And last fall Cherry said the corps would be evicted from the park in June, barring intervention from his superiors.

Even though local and state elected officials had pressured federal officials, including Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel, to allow the CCC to stay at the park past this June, Cherry said he was not ordered to allow the group to remain.

Instead, Cherry said that he softened his stance after meeting late last month in Los Angeles with Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, who represents the San Pedro area, and city Recreation and Parks Department officials. At the meeting, the officials indicated they would move forward with a master plan to develop the park, and determine the corps' role in that development, he said.

That, in turn, could mean that the corps could remain at the park past June, 1988, if the group is involved in the park's development, he said.

"I guess what we are hoping for is that the CCC can be involved in the demolition and update of the buildings," Cherry said.

Although a cultural center operates at the park and a small section has been landscaped, the park has been left largely untouched by the city over the years. A master plan for the area was sketched about six years ago.

James E. Hadaway, general manager of the Recreation and Parks Department, said last week that the city has not had the money to develop the park. Any plans for the area are contigent upon obtaining funds.

Money Needed

"I have to be honest," Hadaway said. "Master plans don't get anything done. It's money to do master plans."

The 2,000-member CCC was formed a decade ago by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. to train men and women between the ages of 18 to 23, many of them high-school dropouts. At present, 72 corps members live at Angels Gate.

When told Tuesday that the group would be allowed to stay at the park, Cisco Hunter, director of the San Pedro camp, said he was "estactic."

"We were optimistic and hopeful everything would stay status quo."

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