The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

Dukes up on fate of park buildings

Subtitle:

Date:

2005-02-03

Author:

Gene Maddaus, Staff Writer

Publication:

Pasadena Star News

Content:

Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - PASADENA -- Pasadena officials are hoping to stall the demolition of several buildings in the Hahamongna Watershed Area, which the city hopes to convert into a nature center.

The U.S. Forest Service has announced it intends to begin razing the buildings immediately, and Pasadena is fighting bureaucratic momentum that has been gathering for more than a year.

"It's just crazy that they would even consider such a thing,' said Mary Barrie, a La Canada Flintridge trails advocate. "They are going to spend money on taking down buildings that are perfectly good.'

The long-abandoned buildings used to be a ranger outpost for the Forest Service. They sit on 30 acres owned by the Metropolitan Water District, on the west side of Hahamongna park, just south of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A year ago, MWD ordered the Forest Service to demolish the buildings. The water agency intended to dispose of the land and wanted the site returned to its "natural state.'

The Forest Service took a year to develop a demolition plan that would safely dispose of asbestos insulation in the buildings.

"Our intent is to have the buildings removed,' said Don Cosby, the local district ranger for the Forest Service. "We have been asked by MWD to bring the site to its natural conditions. That would include the buildings.'

Pasadena has been negotiating a lease to take control of the 30 acres for the past five years. Last month, the MWD scrapped the lease and decided instead to sell the land. Pasadena hopes to buy the parcel when it comes up for sale this spring, but there may be other bidders. La Canada Flintridge officials have yet to decide whether they will seek to purchase the land.

Pasadena has asked that the Forest Service hold off at least until the property is sold.

Cosby, of the Forest Service, suggested that the city deal directly with MWD, since MWD is the landowner. MWD has suggested that the city deal with the Forest Service.

"It's not Metropolitan's call on this,' said Harley Searcy, senior deputy general counsel for the water agency.

"Right now, it's everybody pointing fingers at everybody else,' Barrie said.

By razing the buildings, the Forest Service would eliminate a potential liability. If the asbestos were to harm someone, or if someone were to slip and fall in the buildings, the Forest Service could be sued.

"They certainly will not just let them stay there without an open-ended indemnification for time immemorial from Pasadena,' Searcy said.

The city attorney's cannot determine that until, and unless, the city purchases the land. If the city offered indemnification now and La Canada Flintridge ended up with the land, Pasadena would be stuck with legal liability for buildings it would not own or control.

"That's not the way it works,' said City Attorney Michele Bagneris. "For a contractual relationship and an indemnification, we'd have to have some type of interest in the property.'

Meanwhile, bulldozing could begin any day.

-- Gene Maddaus can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444, or by e-mail at gene.maddaus@sgvn.com .