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A New Tack on Boating Center Site

Ventura County studies an alternate locale for the education facility at Channel Islands Harbor after concerns arise over a parkland location.

June 25, 2003|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

After insisting for years that a proposed $7.2-million boating center be built on the western flank of Channel Islands Harbor, Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn appears to be softening his stance.

Flynn said Tuesday that an abandoned boating launch on the opposite side of the harbor deserves a closer look.

His board colleagues agreed, voting 4 to 0 to order additional studies of safety and boat traffic issues associated with the alternate lot.

Situated off Victoria Boulevard near the harbor's Coast Guard headquarters, the property may prove to be an even better site to build the 20,000-square-foot boating facility, Flynn said.

"I tend to be looking more at the east side location every day," said Flynn, whose 5th District includes a portion of the harbor.

Students from Cal State Channel Islands and local high schools would use the facility for classes in sailing, kayaking and rowing, as well as marine studies. County officials see its construction as crucial in revitalizing the aging harbor.

For two years Flynn had strongly backed building the center on a strip of parkland near the Whale's Tail restaurant on the harbor's western side.

That site has generated strong resistance from residents, who say the large building would block their views of the harbor and threaten blue herons that nest in the park's trees.

Flynn, who faces a tough reelection contest next year, said the residents' concerns have persuaded him to get more information on the other site.

But he told colleagues the review must move quickly so the state does not revoke a $4.2-million grant provided for the facility's construction. Supervisor Linda Parks co-wrote Flynn's request for the new study, saying current environmental reviews have been inadequate.

Several speakers told the supervisors they are making the right decision in backing off the original site. After the hearing, Ellen Spiegel said she is thrilled with the board's decision.

But she will not celebrate yet, said Spiegel, who sits on a local community services board.

"I don't think the battle is over because the fat lady hasn't sung yet," she said. "But it's looking good."

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