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The Valley

Sports Academy Project on Hold

Hansen Dam: Power line concerns prompt search for new site for baseball facility. Swimming lake is closed for repairs.

June 11, 2002|RICHARD FAUSSET | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Plans for a youth sports academy at Hansen Dam Recreation Area have been scrapped, at least temporarily, and a popular swimming lake at the site has been closed for repairs, authorities said Monday.

Major league baseball officials halted plans to build a $10-million sports academy for youths from low-income families in the northeast San Fernando Valley's 1,400-acre park after Southern California Edison expressed concerns about the site because of possible exposure to power lines.

Edison wanted to put the baseball project on hold until the state completes a survey on the health effects of electromagnetic fields emitted from power lines and other sources, company spokesman Steve Conroy said.

About a month ago, baseball officials decided they had waited long enough for the study to be released.

"In order to not lose momentum, we had to start looking for an alternate site," baseball Vice President Jimmie Lee Solomon said.

He said baseball officials would like to keep the proposed youth academy in the Valley, but he declined to identify other possible sites.

Baseball officials are considering another location in the Hansen recreation area as one of their options, said Bob Blumenfield, district director for Rep. Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills).

The academy was planned as a joint project between the city and major league baseball.

Some residents protested that the project would bring more traffic and development to an area that is still considered horse country.

Nancy Snider of the Lake View Terrace Homeowners' Assn. said she was "very happy" that baseball officials had withdrawn from the original site.

Meanwhile, the park's popular swimming lake was drained and dug up because pipes underneath were leaking, according to Ed Louie of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the recreation area. Louie said the $3-million repair project is expected to be completed by July 4.

Some area residents were upset by the corps' decision to dump the broken chunks of concrete from the swimming lake into another body of water on the north side of the recreation area that many use for swimming.

However, the impounded water is not a swimming hole, but a "borrow pit"--an area meant to catch runoff from the surrounding foothills--said Katie Parks, an Army Corps recreation planner.

Corps officials said they were filling in the 60-foot-deep pit because it was a health hazard. Among other things, they have considered turning the area into a shallow wetlands.

Pat Kramer of nearby Sunland swims in the pit regularly and considers it a pleasant, more unstructured complement to the recreation area's designated swimming spot. She said she can't believe it's being used as a dumping ground, and is especially angry that residents weren't consulted about the decision.

"When did they ever ask anybody who uses that area what they want to do with it?" she said.

Corps officials said Monday they would consult with neighbors before they make any further decisions about the property.

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