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Castaic Lake Closure Delayed a Week

The recreation area will stay open through Sept. 7. L.A. County officials hope to find funds to keep it operating.

August 20, 2003|Stephanie Stassel | Times Staff Writer

With the closure of the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area delayed one week, state officials on Tuesday said they were searching for ways to keep the popular spot open to the public.

Because of state and Los Angeles County budget shortfalls, officials planned to close the lake Aug. 31 -- during the busy Labor Day weekend -- but will now keep it open through Sept. 7 after county Supervisor Mike Antonovich pitched in $50,000 from a discretionary fund.

"We're optimistic that the state, in the week that we bought for them, will come up with the necessary funding," said Antonovich spokesman Tony Bell.

The lake is owned by the state but has been operated by the county since its opening in the 1970s.

Also stepping forward was Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who donated an unspecified amount from a discretionary fund to keep the El Cariso Park pool in the San Fernando Valley open through Labor Day. It had been slated to close Sunday.

In a separate development, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority will assume operation of the Placerita Canyon Natural Area beginning Sept. 1, officials said Tuesday.

The county, which had also planned to close Placerita and its nature center Aug. 31 because of a lack of funding, had asked for assistance from the authority, a joint-powers agreement of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

County officials said about $300,000 a year is spent on the center and surrounding area.

Staff will be sent from other conservancy parks to assume day-to-day operation of the nature center

"We're prepared to do this for six months, then we'll see where our funds are," said Rorie Skei, the conservancy's chief deputy director.

Meanwhile, the future of Castaic Lake remains uncertain. A $4-million deficit in its parks department budget recently prompted the county to turn over operation of the lake to the state.

The county, which spends $2.8 million a year on the lake, is contracted to continue the job until 2017.

Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) said Tuesday that, despite the state's budget problems, he is talking to legislators and state officials in hopes of securing money to keep the lake open.

As a long-term solution, the county is exploring the possibility of having a private vendor manage the lake, officials said.

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