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L.A. Parks Board to Consider Leasing Caltrans Lot for Ball Diamond

June 30, 1988|ESTHER SCHRADER | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners is scheduled today to consider a lease agreement that would allow the city to build a children's baseball diamond on a vacant lot at the end of the Glendale Freeway in Silver Lake.

The commission must approve the lease before Friday or lose the opportunity to use state funds available for the site, owned by the California Department of Transportation.

Caltrans has agreed to lease the 1.8-acre parcel to the city for 10 years at $1 per year. But development of the site as a park is contingent on getting $30,000 in state funds available only if the lease is approved before Friday.

The state money is only a small portion of the $420,000 needed to turn what is now a vacant lot littered with asphalt fragments into a baseball diamond for area youngsters.

Funds Earmarked for Fence

But without those funds, earmarked for construction of a 30-foot-high fence to protect motorists on the nearby freeway off-ramp from stray balls, city officials say the agreement would fall through.

The money was appropriated in this year's state budget and must be used before the fiscal year ends today.

Officials say they have no assurance that the appropriation would make it in the 1988-89 budget expected to be approved by Gov. George Deukmejian this summer.

"If we don't get this thing through by the end of the fiscal year it will be lost," said Alonzo Carmichael of the Los Angeles Planning Department.

Community activists have fought for a park at the site for more than two years. They contend that it is necessary because another field at the nearby Silver Lake Recreation Center is overcrowded and there is no other relatively flat piece of available land in the hilly neighborhood except the Caltrans plot.

But now at least one of those activists, Bennett Kayser, says he will testify at the commission hearing today that the city is rushing the project through to get the state funds at the expense of proper environmental tests.

Oil Dumping Charged

Kayser, who is running for a Los Angeles City Council seat against Councilman Michael Woo, says that Caltrans has dumped truck oil on the site in the past and that the city has not tested the site for toxic substances.

Caltrans officials deny the practice and city officials say they are satisfied with a transportation agency history of the site they requested.

"We have no reports from any agencies of any toxic dumping on the site," Carmichael said. "We do a pretty thorough job . . . we have to. We wouldn't want to take any kids on the site with any toxic material there."

The City Council approved a negative environmental declaration for the site earlier this month, meaning the project could go forward without a detailed environmental study, after city officials reported no problems with the site in an environmental assessment.

If the lease agreement is signed, construction and landscaping of the site will take as long as two years, Carmichael said.

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