Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's Next for Angel's Gate????

First, here is an article written by Ms. Donna Littlejohn that appeared in the July 26 edition of The Daily Breeze:

Angels Gate Park gets historic status
By Donna Littlejohn, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/25/2008 11:25:06 PM PDT

Local military historians won their battle Friday to have San Pedro's Angels Gate Park - the former Fort MacArthur Army post - listed as a state historic district.

Supporters said the listing is needed to protect the buildings and gun batteries remaining on the property that served as a coastal military installation for nearly a century.

Opponents worry it could impede ongoing work on a new cultural and recreational master plan for the property that was deeded to the city of Los Angeles by the federal government in 1977.

In a 5-1 vote, the California State Historic Resources Commission approved the nomination of the Fort MacArthur Upper Reservation, now a 64-acre city park at 3601 S. Gaffey St.

"This has validated more than 20 years of advocacy for the property," said Joe Janesic of the Fort MacArthur Museum Association.

Opponents, who fear the ruling could hamper progress on a cultural and recreational master plan for the park, question the ruling they say was based on misinformation.

The Los Angeles City Council last October vetoed an earlier vote by the city's Cultural Affairs Commission that supported the designation.

City Councilwoman Janice Hahn cited the master plan process in asking for the veto, which was unanimous.

In a written statement issued late Friday, Hahn said she appreciated the historic nature of the property, but added that "designating the entire park could hurt the master plan process that is in place."

"I am hopeful that there will be minimum impacts as we move forward," she said.
Among those speaking against the designation at the meeting Friday was Nathan Birnbaum, director of the Angels Gate Cultural Center.

"It's very disappointing," Birnbaum said of the commission's decision. The center is hoping to add a theater and cafe along with other improvements to its property within the park under a new master plan.

It remains unclear how much the historic designation will affect the master plan. But at a minimum it will require that additional steps be taken before any existing structures can be demolished.

Fort MacArthur was a U.S. Army post that guarded the Los Angeles Harbor from 1914-74, a period that spanned four wars.

The 20 acres that include the Osgood-Farley Battery and military museum already are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Supporters have long believed the remaining gun emplacements and some 100 World War II-era buildings scattered throughout the park are in danger of being razed without further protections in place.

Friday's ruling does not affect separate Los Angeles school district property within the site, but Janesic did not rule out filing a nomination to protect structures on that property as well. The school district is studying the construction of a new high school on that parcel.

In addition to providing another layer of protection, Janesic said, the new state listing opens new avenues to secure state and federal money in the association's ongoing preservation efforts.

In a letter written to the city a year ago stating the association's intentions to nominate the entire park, Janesic said the idea was not to hamper the master plan process.

"Our intent is not to deprive the use of the structures, but rather to list them so that future use and planning may be directed toward a `preservation friendly' development rather than a bulldozer approach," Janesic wrote.

Second, I feel it bears repeating that the property owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was NOT involved in the vote held on Friday.

LAUSD continues to pursue building a new high school campus on land it was deeded, next to the Angel's Gate area on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed South Region High School #15 is slated for release on Friday August 1, 2008.

Now what is next?

Someone I know worked on the Angel's Gate Master Plan and he said that all the meetings were finished several months ago and everything had finally been settled after years of struggle.

Now what is next?

LAUSD is so desperate to have SRHS 15 built on its property that they stated they would be willing to work with the Department of Parks and Recreation to either rebuild Gaffey Street Pool, or build a new pool, for use by the new students and the public?

This is one more item LAUSD is willing to throw into the pot to gain more support for a new campus.

Now what is next?

The answer to the three repeated questions seems to have been placed squarely back up into the air, it seems.

I think you should know that the group, Neighborhoods Organized and Involved to Support Education (NOISE), the group opposed to having SRHS 15 built in the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur (Angel's Gate) was not directly involved in the decision making, as to the historical status of the area not owned by LAUSD.

I think you should also know that NOISE is probably going to try and get the LAUSD-owned property on the 61+acre overall site, also designated with historical status, to prevent a new high school from being built, at the district's "preferred" location.

Now, let's try and review what we may 'know', considering everything on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

The Korean Bell and the parkland surrounding it are going to stay put.

The basketball court will still exist because it is probably the one court that is used in more commercials than any other court in the country (L.A. makes money when that court is filmed.)

The Fort MacArthur Military Museum was given historical status some time ago and it and the two batteries, Osgood and Farley will continue to exist, but the concrete structures will also continue to become more damaged as time goes by.

The L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation will still have offices near the Gaffey Street entrances.

The Marine Mammal Rescue Center and the Oil Bird Recovery Center will probably remain on the LAUSD-owned land they now occupy.

I think that about wraps up just about everything many of us know to be true in the long run of the site.

I do hope that the 'O' scale and the 'N' scale model railroad clubs continue for many years AND I hope an 'HO' scale club finds room at the site for a big layout.

I also hope the folks at the Angel's Gate Cultural Center stay put and grow as much as possible.

Beyond that, I am stumped!

I wonder if the designation as a Historic District means that Barlow-Saxton road cannot be used to access LAUSD property.

I would like to read editorials and letters to the editor from all sides, about these issues.

We could use a good number of comments to this post, I feel.

1 comment:

Just4fin said...

The Fort MacArthur Museum Association has just thrown a monkey wrench into the final development of the Upper Reservation as a much needed and wanted public park facility with amenities people can actually enjoy and use.

They want to keep the site as a military graveyard of dilapidated temporary buildings that should, by all rights, have been demolished years ago. They were in poor shape and have been deteriorating ever since I was stationed there in the 1970's and at present, with their asbestos and lead paint construction, pose a health hazard as well to the community members who use them.

Under the guise of military preservationists, they have become obstructionists to the development of one of the largest available public park spaces left in Los Angeles.