Monday, March 21, 2005 - PASADENA -- The City Council agreed Monday night to cough up $1.2 million to buy 30 acres of parkland near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which city officials say they hope to preserve as a recreational area.
The city has long sought to acquire the rights to the land, which sits on the western side of the Hahamongna Watershed Area.
The Metropolitan Water District bought the land from Pasadena 35 years ago, intending to build a water-treatment plant there.
The facility never materialized, and for the past several years Pasadena has been looking to lease the land back from the MWD in order to integrate it into the 300-acre Hahamongna park.
In January, the water district abruptly halted lease negotiations and decided to sell the parcel outright as surplus land.
"One way or the other, we want to integrate that property into our master plan for Hahamongna,' said Mayor Bill Bogaard in January. "I prefer the purchase because it's permanent and final.'
Some environmentalists and park users expressed concerns that Pasadena might be hiding its true intentions. Some feared the city might place a 1,200- space parking garage on the site, which it could then lease to JPL or an NFL football team.
The land is on the Pasadena side of the border with La Canada Flintridge. La Canada Flintridge briefly considered bidding on the land until it became apparent that Pasadena had the inside track.
Environmentalists also became alarmed when it appeared the U.S. Forest Service would demolish an old ranger station on the property before the sale was finalized.
Trail users hope the buildings can be refurbished and turned into a nature center.
The MWD had ordered the Forest Service more than a year ago to demolish the buildings. The Forest Service was prepared in February to tear the buildings down, worried that leaving them standing might create unwanted liabilities.
But as part of the sale, the City of Pasadena will indemnify the Forest Service and the water district, eliminating the need for demolition.
Pasadena also agreed to a covenant that forbids the use of the land for anything other than open space and recreation.
The Rose Bowl Riders, an equestrian club, has long held a lease on 12 acres of the land. That lease will continue, and city officials have promised to work with the group to keep them from having to move.
The land also includes a Los Angeles County Fire station. The fire department has a 50- year lease on the land.
Gene Maddaus can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .