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ORANGE COUNTY

Anaheim Chosen for Tiger's Golf Center

Recreation: The $25- million learning facility is seen as a boost for park-poor northern O.C.

October 09, 2002|JEAN O. PASCO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Tiger Woods Foundation has chosen Anaheim as the site for a $25-million educational center for underprivileged youths, a victory for local officials working to boost recreation facilities in park-starved northern Orange County.

The Tiger Woods Learning Center would provide academic tutoring in reading, writing and computer skills for children ages 8 to 17, as well as classes in golf on a practice course. The foundation hopes to eventually build several centers around the country. Anaheim was selected over several Southern California cities, including Long Beach.

Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Cynthia P. Coad said the facility will fill a critical need for youth recreation programs in North County, which has far fewer regional parks than South County.

"This is a major step for the revitalization of north Orange County," said Coad, who pushed for the center to be built on property owned by the county flood control district next to the H.G. Dad Miller Golf Course in Anaheim.

"This is an area with a lot of underserved kids. It's a positive part of the picture that's been missing. The kids in the area don't have enough activities."

Woods, acknowledged as one of the world's greatest athletes, played the Dad Miller course as a standout student at Anaheim's Western High School in the mid-1990s. He now lives in Orlando, Fla.

His foundation, based in Los Alamitos, has pledged to spend up to $25 million in private funds to build a two-story, 30,000-square-foot building next to the practice course.

The first floor would house a pro shop, administrative offices and classrooms. The second floor would have computer classes with up to 200 terminals, a library and space for tutoring.

Golf architect Tom Fazio is designing the playing facilities.

The foundation was wooed by several cities around the country--most with more land to offer--but Woods has said he wanted to open his first permanent center close to his childhood home. He also said he wanted children from less privileged backgrounds to be introduced to a game often associated with wealth.

Orange County supervisors unanimously approved an option for the foundation to lease the property for $2 a year for 50 years.

Anaheim still must formally approve parts of the deal, which involves moving an existing driving range. The final proposal also must be signed by Woods and his father, Earl Woods.

City officials said they anticipated resolving remaining details within two weeks.

"I think everything will turn out fine," Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly said. "This partnership has great potential."

The county conditionally agreed to spend $1 million from state park money for improvements to an adjacent area planned for a future flood-control catch basin. The county had leased the land to Anaheim, along with a portion of the Dad Miller Golf Course, which also is on flood-control property. The county's lease with the city expired last month.

Anaheim officials touted the new center as part of a renaissance for western Anaheim, including new parks, median landscaping and a community center.

"The schools are thrilled they're going to have a place with a computer lab and so many opportunities," Coad said. "It's really a happy day for the kids and the schools and the families."

In other action Tuesday, county supervisors approved the first recreation projects for north Orange County to be funded by $16 million from a state park bond. Orange County cities will receive $39 million from the same bond measure.

About $3 million of the county's share will be spent on a cultural center in Westminster, soccer fields in Santa Ana and an indoor sports complex in Garden Grove.

Some Westminster residents complained that the cultural center, which will be providing art classes, doesn't fit the definition of a park.

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