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Revised Bonelli Park Plan Renews Dispute : San Dimas: Expansion of Raging Waters has been added to controversial county plans to permit commercial development in the park.

October 25, 1990|FRANKI V. RANSOM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIMAS — County parks officials have revised a controversial plan that would raise money by permitting commercial development in Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, bringing renewed opposition from a citizens group that has fought the project for the past two years.

Under the new plan, an existing equestrian area and a park maintenance facility would be relocated so that the Raging Waters amusement park can be expanded. The new proposal retains the county's desire to build a cabin complex, restaurant and lounge in the park.

The county's plans for development in Bonelli Park have generated disagreement and legal action since they were first proposed in 1986. Raging Waters Inc., a private company, leases land from the county, and the expansion of the water park is a new addition to development plans.

Bonelli Park, most of which is in San Dimas but which stretches into Pomona and La Verne, is operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. Claremont, Covina and Glendora also are part of a joint powers authority that must be consulted on any park project.

Bill Harvey of the parks department said the new plans would provide more recreational activities for park users and generate an additional $500,000 a year.

The Coalition to Save Bonelli Park, however, is concerned that the development will harm plant and animal life. The group wants no further development in the park.

San Dimas Councilman Denis Bertone, co-chairman of the coalition, accused county officials of allowing a desire to make money to override the needs of the public.

The proposed development, he said, "is inappropriate for a public park. . . . If people want (theme park) recreation, they can go to Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm."

The new plans, including an environmental impact report, have been sent to the six cities that make up the joint powers authority. All interested parties have until Nov. 24 to object. The parks department then will make a recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors.

Coalition attorney Ronald Vera said the group plans to challenge the county for not including the authority in its latest planning process. But Harvey said a 1989 judge's ruling that required the county to consult with the authority only applied to an earlier proposal for new golf and equestrian centers.

Besides allowing the expansion of Raging Waters, which would use 119 acres to build new attractions and a parking lot for 4,000 cars, the county wants to construct a 150-room lodge, an 80-unit cabin complex and a 25,000-square-foot restaurant in a hillside area west of Puddingstone Reservoir.

BACKGROUND

In 1986, the county first proposed an expansion of development in Bonelli Park. In 1988, the Coalition to Preserve Bonelli Park sued the county, claiming that park officials violated state law by soliciting proposals from developers without first completing an environmental impact report. A judge ruled in 1989 that the county must consult on projects with the park's joint powers authority.

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