By Larry Wilson, Pasadena Star-News
POSTED: 08/26/14, 8:24 PM PDT
Only a few of the combatants are so far reaching for “Hunger Games” parallels. But the long-running dispute between the Roving Archers of Pasadena and Lower Arroyo neighbors, hikers, dog-walker and open-space advocates is heating up on its way toward a Sept. 15 City Council shooting match.
At issue is an area on the west side of the Arroyo Seco that has been set aside, apparently for 80 years, for target practice and competition for the bow-and-arrow set. The council will consider re-upping the agreement with the archers next month. But what may seem a simple continuation of a long agreement is to members of a new group called Stewards of Public Land a complete giveaway of what they say is 18 acres of park space that should never be set aside for one activity alone. They say the agreement would permanently prohibit everything else, from bird-watching to dog-walking, on the west side of the storm drain in an area that has long been multi-use.
Commenting on the Next Door website, Vannia de la Cuba, who works for City Councilman Victor Gordo, said that the agreement will just solidify “deal points” so the archery range “will remain a single use public space, as has been the case for 80 years. There has never been an accident on this range and it is important that remains the case by ensuring that walkers/joggers stay on the identified path immediately adjacent to the edge of the range (much in the same way as you wouldn’t walk through Brookside Golf Course, lest you get hit with a 150 mph golf ball!)”
To the Stewards, Brookside is an apt point. On the group’s website, there’s a history of open space in the city: “1920s: Pasadena had over 1,000 acres of public park land. Population was 45,000. 2014: Parks staff counts 861 acres of public park land. Population 150,000. Well-intentioned, good causes often have the political power to take public park land for their private, restricted access facilities, when a more thoughtful approach would be to acquire land outside the park for new facilities. (Some of the uses listed below are recreational, but they are still restricted access facilities. One of the first: La Pintoresca Library in La Pintoresca Park (branch library) 1920s . Lawn Bowling Club and Tourist Club House (now El Centro de Accion Social) in Central Park 1920s (intended for tourists). Tournament Park (14 acres) taken by Caltech – 1960s-1970s. Carmelita Park taken by Pasadena Art Museum for museum, large parking lot (land still owned by City) – 1960s. Senior Center built in Memorial Park (1950s, enlarged 1970s).”
Another example is the almost 200 acres that make up the 36 holes of the Brookside Golf Courses in the Central Arroyo Seco, now behind a chain-link fence for the use of paying golfers like me.
So there I think is the rub, and the interesting point that the Stewards make. We create very little if any new parkland, and then we dedicate more open space over the years to specific uses, from hard-flying golf balls to the very fast arrows now slung by these carbon-composite bows. I understand the eight decades of a use. But I also understand the anger over disappearing park land.
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