To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, March 29, 2013

JPL parking lot, soccer field project to be removed from Hahamongna Park


By James Figueroa, March 28, 2013




 A trail running along the eastern fence of Jet Propulsion Laboratory is temporarily closed while construction of a new parking structure continues at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

PASADENA -- Jet Propulsion Laboratory is preparing to remove its ecological footprint from neighboring Hahamongna Watershed Park, which also will be freed from a controversial soccer field plan if the state approves a change in grant funding. Both projects are being welcomed by open space advocates who have taken a keen interest in Hahamongna.

The JPL project involves building a new parking structure on the east side of its campus. Workers will park there instead of the east lot in the middle of the Arroyo Seco, which will be torn up and renovated as natural habitat.

Construction on the new parking structure is expected to last about 18 months, and JPL has temporarily closed a trail that runs along its eastern fence to provide enough space for the work. The trail is lightly used, and a JPL spokeswoman said there haven't been any calls in response to closure signs that went up last week.

Pasadena officials asked JPL to remove the lot as part of its Hahamongna conservation master plan, and will use the open space as a spreading basin for groundwater replenishment. A small part of the existing parking lot may be saved for recreational use.

"That's a particularly important area," said Arroyo Seco Foundation director Tim Brick, describing it as a transition area from the mountain wilderness to the open plains of the arroyo basin. "It really has a lot of value in terms of habitat, and it has a lot of value in terms of water - we're really pleased that JPL is moving ahead with that. "

Conservationists are also pleased the soccer-field project is moving away from Hahamongna to a proposed location at Muir High School, where it would be combined with an existing softball field.
Plans for a soccer field created controversy for about two years, and Pasadena officials are now trying to rush the revised Muir project through the governmental process so it can keep about $1 million in state grant funding.

The city's Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee approved the new concept on Thursday, and the city is encouraging people to submit support letters to the state before seeking approval in about two weeks, project manager Loren Pluth said.

However, it isn't clear yet if the high school's neighbors would sign off - a key consideration for the state.

"If the support simply isn't there, we can't move forward with this proposal," Pluth said.

The grant funding has a deadline of July 2015 for the soccer field's completion.

The Hahamongna area that was previously slated to become a sports field will instead remain open space.

"That area has been recovering for the last 10 or 15 years," Brick said, noting that Pasadena's Hahamongna master plan didn't recognize those natural improvements because it was drafted in 2003. "Things have changed, conditions have changed since it was degraded. That area has kind of been healing itself. "

Pasadena has several other Hahamongna improvement projects in the works, though the city is underfunded by about $3.2 million, according to a Thursday staff report. A small improvement project at Sunset Overlook, a trailhead point on the west side of Hahamongna, is nearly complete.

The Arroyo Seco Foundation also helped secure an additional $3.3 million in state funding last year as part of a water management program implemented through Proposition 84, a water conservation bond program approved by California voters in 2006.

Those funds will go toward the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project, rehabilitating intake structures and water habitat in the area to the north of the JPL east parking lot.