Hahamongna Park awaits environmental review
Plans for a new sports field and other upgrades hinge on the results
|July 8, 2012 - The environmental review process to determine the nature and character of Hahamongna is beginning.|
|Tom Sawyer Camps counselors kick in a chorus line to end the day on the soccer field at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena on the border of La Canada Flintridge. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / July 5, 2012)|
July 8, 2012| 6:00 a.m.
Big changes are in the works for the west side of Hahamongna Watershed Park, where city officials plan to build a new sports field, make trail improvements and raise acres of ground to prevent seasonal flooding.
Depending on the outcome of an environmental review that starts this week, the roughly $5.7-million series of projects could break ground by 2014 — around the time county workers would begin excavating as much as 4 million cubic yards of sediment from behind Devil's Gate Dam.
The plan calls for a new multipurpose athletic field directly east of the 300-acre park's existing field, on an area partially used as an overflow parking lot.
Officials are also seeking to add about 100 parking spaces nearby and relocate at least four baskets in the park's disc golf course, said Loren Pluth, a project manager with the Pasadena Department of Public Works. Advocates for the new field say existing fields cannot accommodate the demand for youth sports, especially soccer.
“We're always in competition with others for field space,” said Steven Bickel, a commissioner for the American Youth Soccer Organization in Pasadena, Altadena and La Cañada Flintridge.
Local AYSO registrations have grown from about 2,800 last year to more than 3,000, “which means more teams and additional pressure on the fields we have access to,” he said.
Conservationists, however, are protective of the city's few remaining wildlands.
“I think most of us could agree that the city needs more soccer fields, but we just don't think they should be in Hahamongna,” said local Sierra Club organizer Don Bremner, a member of the city's Recreation and Parks Commission and Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee. “It detracts from the available space for natural habitat and would also bring a lot more traffic into the park.”
Other plans include installing erosion controls for Berkshire Creek, fed by runoff from La Cañada High School, and raising the elevation of the Westside Perimeter Trail by as much as 12 feet, Pluth said.
The trail, which follows a utility access route from where the new field would go to the south end of the park, is impassable when the basin behind Devil's Gate Dam is flooded.
Workers would also raise ground levels between the trail and the dam basin to prevent flooding and establish new trees and other native plants.
Though the park proposal and debris removal efforts are undergoing separate reviews, Pluth said excavation work in the Devil's Gate basin could provide all the dirt needed for the city's Hahamongna proposals.
County workers removed 13,000 cubic yards of sediment from within 100 feet of the dam last year and may soon remove another 5,000 cubic yards that accumulated this winter, said Los Angeles County Department of Public Works spokesman Mike Kaspar.
The 2014 dig, proposed after 1.5 million cubic yards of mud and debris filled the basin following the 2009 Station fire, would affect more than 50 acres of parkland and is currently under environmental review.
Review of the sports field and other city proposals for Hahamongna kicks off with public meetings at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Saturday at Salvation Army Fellowship Hall, 960 E. Walnut St., Pasadena. The plans are subject to final approval by the City Council, which was split on the issue when it last arose in 2010.
Councilman Gene Masuda, who was not on the council two years ago, could be the deciding vote.
“I'm not sure a soccer field belongs in Hahamongna. I will certainly try to keep an open mind, but this is a place we need to preserve,” he said.
Masuda is pushing instead for a deal with Southern California Edison to create two new sports fields south of Viña Vieja Park on East Orange Grove Boulevard on undeveloped land near utility wires.
But money could be a factor.
It isn't clear whether state grant money accumulated to pay for a Hahamongna field could be spent elsewhere, Pluth said.