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Gun Range, Gymnasium Among Uses Proposed for Freeway Park

August 20, 1987|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A skeet-shooting range, Japanese meditation center and a gymnastics stadium are among commercial developments proposed for one of the four parks planned along the Glendale Freeway in the San Rafael Hills above Glendale.

The proposals for the park, east of Fern Lane in the Verdugo Woodlands area, were presented last week at a public hearing before the Glendale Parks and Recreation Commission and will be given further consideration by the commission Sept. 9. Further proposals will be accepted until that date.

The 22.7-acre site is the most northerly of four "freeway parks" immediately east of the Glendale freeway, acquired several years ago from the California Department of Transportation, to be developed. The four sites, 392 acres in all, are relatively flat and were carved out or filled in during construction of the freeway. Access to them is by freeway underpasses at Fern Lane and Sherer Lane.

Seeking Lease Revenue

City officials suggest that leasing the northern parcel will generate funds that could be used to develop the other three sites for recreation fields, hiking trails and picnic grounds.

Residents protested vehemently four years ago when the Glendale YMCA proposed building a bicycle motocross facility on the site now under consideration for commercial development. The YMCA dropped the plans after the city ordered an environmental impact report prepared. The city has been studying what to do with the freeway land since then.

A consultant hired by the city provoked more criticism last year when he proposed that freeway on- and off-ramps be constructed at Fern Lane to provide freeway access to the parks. Residents objected, saying that freeway access would greatly increase traffic in the residential area. George McCullough, commission president, told residents last week that the ramp proposal has been dropped because of opposition from residents and Caltrans.

Opposed by Residents

The several dozen residents who attended the hearing last week also opposed the latest development proposals.

"We have a quiet neighborhood and we want to keep it that way," said Merton Goddard, who lives near the parkland. Another resident, Jane Fear, said she opposes any increase in traffic on Fern Lane, which she said is dangerously steep. "We've had people killed on that street," Fear said.

But several people at the hearing spoke in favor of the proposed trapshooting range. George W. Humphries, a Glendale attorney representing trapshooting enthusiasts, said the northern parcel "is an ideal location for a shooting range." He said more than 150 Glendale residents have signed petitions favoring the range, which would produce revenue for the city.

Gymnasium for YMCA

The gymnastics stadium was proposed by Carl Meseck, general manager of the Glendale YMCA. Meseck said his organization has run out of space at its downtown Glendale facility and that there is a demand for gymnastics instruction. However, he acknowledged that the center would not be designed to produce revenue for the city.

Representatives of the International Karate Assn. in Glendale proposed that the site be developed into a martial arts and meditation center. Thea Kubota said the center would preserve much of the park as open space.

Robert McFall, parks director, said all of the proposals will be considered and possibly combined.

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