This year the Long Beach Parks and Recreation Department proposed to build a so-called "Family Sports Center" on the site of the former tree farm on Spring Street just east of the nature center and just west of the 605 (San Gabriel River) Freeway. The site consists of 26 acres of land.
The so-called "Family Sports Center" would consist of four baseball diamonds and three soccer fields, a jogging track, picnic facilities and 590 parking spaces for automobiles and buses.
This facility would cost about $2.2 million to build. So far, the initial costs have been $160,000 for the preliminary design and initial "expert" report. An additional $75,000 for design is requested in the 1987-88 budget.
A public hearing held in May by the city Planning Department attracted 250 residents who overwhelmingly opposed the project.
Among the opponents were representatives from Friends of the Long Beach Parks, members of the Sierra Club, the El Dorado Park Estates Neighborhood Assn. and the El Dorado Audubon Society, as well as many individuals concerned about the nature center and their neighborhoods.
Many citizens were concerned about safety as a result of the Easter Sunday closing of El Dorado Park due to the onslaught of people and cars, which overflowed onto residential property nearby. Reported gang fights in the park were of great concern to nearby residents.
Strong arguments were made against the incompatibility of a noisy, night-lighted sports facility right next to a necessarily quiet, unique nature center, the only such facility in the area.
Environmentalists argued that irreparable damage would be done to the animals inhabiting the nature center. It was asserted that there is already an overabundance of sports facilities on the east side of Long Beach and that a greater need existed in other parts of the city.
Friends of the Long Beach Parks has initiated a petition campaign opposing the sports facility and is having remarkable success in its first stages.
The organization is also sponsoring a community rally on Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Emerson School auditorium, 2625 Josie Ave., Long Beach, at 7 p.m.
Friends of the Long Beach Parks urges all concerned residents to attend to oppose the proposed sports complex.
Collins is vice president of Friends of the Long Beach Parks.