Pasadena City Council sends Roving Archers contract back to the drawing board

By Lauren Gold, Pasadena Star-News

POSTED: 09/17/13, 5:10 PM PDT | 1 COMMENT

PASADENA>> Conflict between the Pasadena Roving Archers club and other users of the Lower Arroyo Seco recreation area remained unresolved Monday, after the City Council took no action on a proposed contract for the club’s use of the park’s historic archery range.

The issue has been hotly contested in the community for years, since the previous contract with the club expired in 2010. Members argued that the range should be reserved for archery use, as it has been since 1935, but others said granting “exclusive use” of the range to a private group is unfair.

After heated debate that stretched into the early morning hours, the council declined to approve the proposed contract with the club and asked staff to come back to council with more information as well as an alternative contract that incorporates shared use of the range.

Steve Lee, vice president of the club, said the decision was a disappointing setback.

“It has been a long battle for the last three years and we thought this could possibly be the finale,” Lee said. “It seems we will be going in a circle. I think we’re going to end up coming back to the same conclusion that we really need exclusive use in that area to prevent any future problems.”

The proposed contract, which had been rewritten and adjusted multiple times by staff and the Recreation and Parks Commission, delineated the range solely for public archery, with some times reserved for PRA use, and closing off a hiking trail that currently runs through the range.

The contract also would have required all archers to be certified in safety training by the PRA and required the club to pay the city a portion of its revenues based on the number of members that were Pasadena residents.

Many club members and others who use the range spoke Monday in support of the contract, which they argued would increase safety and allow the range to remain a space for the archery community.

“The city of Pasadena is renowned for preservation of cultural assets and archery in the Arroyo is a historic use, there is no doubt about that,” club member Richard Barron said.

Speakers also stressed the PRA’s many programs for youths, adults and those with special needs. A Change.org petition in support of preserving archery in the Lower Arroyo has received 1,189 signatures.

In contrast, those who spoke Monday night or sent in emails opposing the contract cited concerns about safety of permitting archery in a public space. Opponents also argued that the Arroyo is “Pasadena’s Great Park” and should be shared among all uses, not granted to archery exclusively.

“I am concerned about the appropriations of public land for the exclusive use of a private organization,” former Recreation and Parks commissioner Ann Scheid said. “It is vacant many hours of the day. Why is this land, which was given for public use, stand empty and unavailable to equestrians, walkers and others who could be enjoying it?”

Some suggested that the archery range be moved to the former police shooting range in Eaton Canyon, but staff said the site would need to be cleaned up before that option could even be considered.

Councilman Steve Madison agreed that such a large portion of the Arroyo should not be reserved exclusively for one group.

“I think as stewards of this precious resource we have to look at it in a slightly different way and that is, you come to us with a request that we grant you sole and exclusive possession of this sacred space and I agree there has to be a very high standard for that,” Madison said, adding that he had concerns about safety and reports of arrows landing in neighbors’ yards.

But Councilwoman Jacque Robinson disagreed.

“To me, I think this issue has come before us out of the creation of complaints that to me have not been substantiated,” Robinson said.

Ultimately, the council agreed to send staff back to the drawing board to try to find a solution that will appease all sides and plan for the future.

“Part of the reason there has been kind of an intensification of animosity between groups on this issue is that there are more people that want to use this space and so you have the very success of the archery activity is what poses the challenge because at the same time there are more and more people who want to use this portion of the Arroyo,” Councilman Terry Tornek said. “Our objective here should be to look forward.”


Lauren Gold

Reach the author at lauren.gold@sgvn.com or follow Lauren on Twitter: @laurenkgold.