Baseball and soccer fields at the problem-plagued Scholl Canyon recreation complex in Glendale were reopened this week after the city obtained a court order blocking an air quality control agency from imposing heavy fines.
Public Works Director George Miller ordered Monday that barricades blocking access to the fields be removed, defying an order by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The district July 20 directed the city to close a parking lot adjoining the fields as one of a series of conditions to reduce reported hazards and pollution from methane gas leaking from a closed landfill adjoining the recreation area.
The district ordered the city to either meet the conditions or cease operations. The city faced fines of up to $50,000 a day for failing to comply with the order, said Steven A. Broiles, an attorney representing Glendale.
Broiles said that because the city lacks the proper equipment to meet the conditions, it first shut off flares used to burn excess gas, then re-lit them after the AQMD warned that unburned gas could be dangerous and cause odors.
The city closed the fields because officials feared that the leaking but unburned gas could form pools and migrate to the recreation area. However, Miller said that since the flares were doused only briefly and are now working, no methane leaks have been detected at the ball fields and parking lot.
He said he ordered the barricades removed because "the parks department would like to have the use of the ball diamonds and we have had no problem with leaking methane gas."
The city last week obtained a temporary court order blocking the AQMD from levying fines. A hearing on the order is scheduled Aug. 14 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra I. Janavs, who issued the temporary edict.
The city has also filed a separate court action challenging the legality of the air district's order. A hearing on that issue is scheduled Aug. 24 before the same judge.