In about 15 months, Encino residents can expect to have a new place to exercise, play or just relax.
Ongoing construction on the first phase of the Department of Recreation and Parks' $7 million Sepulveda Dam Sports Complex at 6200 North Louise Ave. is scheduled to be completed in December 2011. Work began in June.
"This huge property, located in a basin and away from single-family residences, was the perfect opportunity for a community park," said John Kirk Mukri, the department's general manager.
The new complex will have a synthetic soccer field, two softball/baseball fields, restrooms, picnic areas, bicycle and walking paths, and parking lots.
"The synthetic field can be utilized by the public every day and the fields don't require the extensive maintenance of natural grass," said Cathie Santo Domingo, project manager for the complex. "If you use a real turf field it would have to be taken out, reseeded and groomed periodically. We strategically are utilizing a synthetic field so that residents can enjoy the facilities anytime."
Planners hope the site's easy access to the freeway will make it a popular destination for people from across the San Fernando Valley. The project is being paid for with funds generated by a 30-year citywide property-tax assessment for parks and recreation improvements that was approved by Los Angeles voters in 1996 (Proposition K), and also from a 2002 state bond measure (Proposition 40) that allocated money for parks projects. The two ballot measures provide more than $25 million a year for recreation sites throughout the city,
The Department of Recreation and Parks first conducted public meetings in 2006 to determine what to do with the 65-acre site that had previously been used as a sod farm. The city has a 99-year lease on the property, which is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.
"Some people commented that they desired more sports fields and others expressed the desire for empty parkland," said Glenn Bailey, who represents Area 1 on the Encino Neighborhood Council and chairs its parks committee. "The new complex will incorporate both, which is a great compromise."
"Our goal," Mukri said, "is to provide a space for residents to get connected to the environment and the community."