Irwindale, Azusa and Duarte--three neighbors with a stormy and at times acrimonious past--put aside their differences in a meeting that officially welcomed the Los Angeles Raiders to the eastern San Gabriel Valley and gave residents a chance to air concerns about the proposed Raiders stadium.
In what Duarte Mayor John Van Doren called a "historic" meeting, the three city councils convened Tuesday night in Duarte and pledged to work together to overcome any remaining obstacles to the Raiders move.
Van Doren said his city is postponing efforts to build an equestrian center on county-leased land because Irwindale is trying to obtain portions of the same parcel for a stadium parking lot. Azusa Mayor Eugene Moses, a bitter foe of Irwindale in the past, said his city would be willing to relinquish 10 acres of land for the parking lot.
Several council members promised to pressure county supervisors and other elected officials whose support is needed to overcome the parking lot problem and other hurdles before the stadium can be built.
The three cities said their cooperation could take several forms, including a possible task force to deal with traffic and other problems and to consider the numerous proposals already pouring in to build hotels, shopping centers and restaurants.
"We want to be at the forefront of welcoming the Raiders," Van Doren said. "We want to show that we are good neighbors and that we are together on this project."
Fred Lyte, an Irwindale redevelopment consultant who helped negotiate the Raiders deal, said a preliminary report indicated that the Raiders stadium could generate $250 million a year in business and other economic activity within a 10-mile radius of the stadium. A precise breakdown of economic benefits will be available in two weeks when a report by marketing expert Harrison Price is expected to be completed.
About 100 residents from the three communities attended the meeting and all but a few raised their hands in support of the project. But several also expressed concern that a stadium would bring noise and traffic problems and attract transients to what are basically residential communities.
One Azusa resident recalled the noise generated by a drag strip in Irwindale in the 1970s and wondered whether the stadium might be enclosed to lessen crowd noise. Lyte said his first plan was to build a domed stadium but that Raiders owner Al Davis rejected the idea because he wants a natural grass field.
Several residents said they would be willing to live with the traffic and other inconveniences associated with a few Raiders home games each year but that they are distressed by other potential uses of the stadium, such as rock concerts and tractor-pull contests.
John Richards, mayor of Bradbury, which is less than a mile from the proposed parking lot, said he wants to ensure that "business and commercial greed don't overwhelm our legitimate residential interests."
"This proposal has clear benefits and to oppose it outright would certainly be churlish and probably un-American," Richards said. "Our concern is with possible other uses--baseball games, rock concerts, religious revivals and, God forbid, swap meets and flea markets."
Xavier Hermosillo, an Irwindale consultant who serves as press spokesman, prompted a grumbling in the crowd when he acknowledged that the stadium will be used for other purposes. He said Irwindale needs revenue from outside events such as college football games and rock concerts to generate the $9 million a year needed to pay off $90 million in stadium bonds.
Hermosillo said the city has made initial contacts with state transportation officials, but has yet to conduct the necessary environmental impact and traffic circulation studies.
"We're still in the early stages of this," he said. "We want to do everything right and everything will be done right."