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Valley Perspective

For Museum Engaging the Senses, This Site Is Sound

The facility for children would be right at home at Hansen Dam, which has ample room in an easily reached locale with plenty of other recreational offerings.

March 26, 2000|ALEX PADILLA | Alex Padilla is a Los Angeles City Council member representing District 7

The Los Angeles Children's Museum, located downtown in the Los Angeles Mall, has grown up. Each year, more than 250,000 young people visit the museum to see children's art on display and to participate in special programs. In this month's "Pen & Poem" workshop, kids make their own quill pens and then write poems on parchment.

But like a kid making the transition from elementary school to middle school in a new neighborhood, the museum must move. Several sites have been proposed, but only certain locations will be feasible. Luckily, Hansen Dam Recreation Area is one of them.

As it stands now, the museum's bonding agreement with the city of Los Angeles requires that a new site be secured no later than June.

More than $9.8 million was made available to the museum for construction when Proposition K was approved by voters in November 1996.

In addition, a $1.25-million grant has been promised by the state.

If trustees don't select the site by the June deadline, they will not be guaranteed the bond construction funds. Extending the timeline for spending that money would require approval from the City Council and mayor.

According to the city engineer, an environmental review for any proposed site will take at least three months. As any kid might tell you, we'd sure better hurry.

Now is the time to make a decision on a new site. Hansen Dam has everything the museum needs--and then some.

Hansen Dam is a popular recreational facility for outdoor concerts, rodeos, family barbecues and an annual 4th of July festival. Facilities include an 18-hole golf course with a clubhouse and driving range, walking and bicycling trails, horse trails and wildlife preserves.

Based on the number of new projects and programs being introduced in the area, Hansen Dam will become the biggest public destination in the San Fernando Valley over the next decade. Already, Hansen Dam boasts a brand new fishing and boating lake, right next to a huge swimming lake with water slides. An equestrian park operated by the city opened there last fall. The San Fernando Valley Fair--previously held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center--will move to Hansen Dam Equestrian Center this summer.

Later this year, we will break ground on the Lake View Terrace branch library at the entrance to the park, at Foothill Boulevard and Osborne Street. By early 2001, new Little League baseball and soccer fields will be available for youth athletic programs.

The benefits of the Hansen Dam location are too good to pass up. The museum could build on 1 1/2 acres of land already owned by the city.

In terms of meeting environmental standards, the proposed location near Foothill and Osborne is about as clean as a site can be.

Parking? Not a problem. With two parking areas bordering the site, there are more than enough spaces to handle 250,000 youngsters and their families each year. And the city has $2.5 million available from a previously proposed Hansen Dam-area project that could be used to assist in planning, design and construction.

Hansen Dam is readily accessible. It is convenient to five freeways--the Hollywood, San Diego, Golden State, Foothill and Ronald Reagan--and is 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. With a shuttle from the North Hollywood Metro Red Line station, getting there would be child's play.

Hansen Dam is convenient for residents of Los Angeles, and it's a regional destination that also will attract families from the Antelope, Conejo and San Gabriel valleys.

To the members of the Children's Museum board of trustees: Select Hansen Dam as the museum's new site. The Valley will welcome you and Los Angeles' children will thank you.

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