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$2.2-Million State Grant OKd for Foothill Parkland

July 14, 1988|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A $2.25-million state allocation has been approved to assist the city of Glendale in acquiring its largest remaining undeveloped parcel of land, the 702-acre Inter-Valley Ranch.

The funds are included in the $44-billion state budget signed into law by Gov. George Deukmejian last week and are part of a $776-million parklands bond issue approved by the voters in June.

Nello Iacono, Glendale parks and recreation director, said $2 million of the state allotment will be used to complete the purchase of the ranch, which the city agreed to acquire in March, 1987, for $5.2 million.

The city set aside its own funds to pay $3.2 million of the purchase price.

Iacono said the remaining $250,000 in state funds will be used for initial improvements at the property, which provides key access to state and federal wilderness areas in Los Angeles.

Iacono said details have not been finalized, but initial work could include development of public parking areas and enhanced hiking and riding trails.

The city is seeking another $100,000 in federal funds to develop an interpretive education center at the ranch in a former winery considered to be historically significant.

The winery now is used as a boarding stable.

Iacono said he expects the city to receive the funds in late November or December.

A series of controversial subdivisions had been proposed for the ranch for more than three decades. The property is in the northernmost portion of Glendale, overlooking the Crescenta Valley, and spans Dunsmore and Cooks canyons north of Foothill Boulevard.

The property borders on the Rim of the Valley Trail that stretches from the Santa Monica Mountains through the San Gabriels and ties into a state and national trail system for hiking and horseback riding.

The 1986 purchase agreement tentatively settled a suit filed in 1985 by William W. Bliss, trustee for owners of the property. The lawsuit challenged the right of the city to block development in order to preserve the open space.

The landowners and a developer sought more than $100 million in damages from the city after it rejected the last development plan--a 282-unit housing subdivision proposed in 1979.

Earlier development proposals ranged from plans for a trailer park to more than 1,400 housing units.

At the time of the purchase agreement, Joseph Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a private agency dedicated to preserving open space, said public acquisition of the Inter-Valley Ranch "adds a much-needed dimension to the entire park system."

"The property not only provides access to the Verdugos, but access to the whole National Forest trail system. That's critical access in an area where development has been built right up to the forest."

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