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PARK PLANS FOR EXCITEMENT; SWIM, BIKE, CLIMB AREAS PROPOSED AT COMPLEX.

Byline: Teresa Jimenez Daily News Staff Writer

A draft master plan of the future Santa Clarita Sports Complex may reflect once again that the city is in touch with its younger residents.

The early sketch, which will be presented to the Parks Commission at its Thursday meeting, includes a climbing wall where visitors can practice their rock-scaling skills, a BMX bicycle course, a laser-tag area and an expanded skate park.

``They're already saying the new skate park is too small,'' said Ken Trone, city park development coordinator, referring to the facility that opened last month. ``So they're envisioning expanding it to three times its size.''

The proposed complex also has an aquatics facility with an Olympic-size pool, bleachers and a diving tank.

But not to leave out residents of all ages, the park sketch also has a ``zero-entry'' pool, which slopes just like the beach so that mothers can wade into the water with their children and the elderly can get in without worrying about slippery steps. Something like a water park, with interactive toys and perhaps a slide, also is envisioned for the 20-acre area at 26407 Golden Valley Road.

A tot lot in a grassy area designed for picnics and strolling is included for less strenuous activities.

``It's more of a traditional area with grass and trees. You can have a picnic there,'' Trone said. ``It just gives it a transition from the more active areas.''

The plan is beginning to take shape after two public meetings in which residents from various sports, recreation and youth organizations gave their views on what should be built on the site.

The city bought the former Merle Norman cosmetics warehouse complex last year, and has begun converting it into what City Manager George Caravalho has said will be a first-class recreation facility.

Already, the new skate park is a huge success. And one of the warehouses, which has been converted into a gymnasium, will officially open this weekend. The gym has four racquetball courts, two basketball courts, locker rooms and offices.

The draft plan proposes what to do with the remaining two warehouses and surrounding land.

Half of one warehouse would be used as a support facility for the aquatics center, with showers and changing rooms, Trone said. The other half would be used as an auditorium.

The warehouse next to the new gymnasium, which is being used as a homeless shelter this winter, would be converted into a community center with a teen area, meeting rooms, classrooms, child development programs and offices, Trone said.

The design also includes an exercise course circling the entire lot, with work stations for doing sit-ups, pull-ups and other activities, Trone said.

To tie all of the areas together, the design includes covered promenades making it easier to get from one area of the park to another, Trone said.

``The intent is to tie all the buildings together in a pedestrian manner,'' Trone said.

Still, vehicle access will be generous, Trone said. A drop-off area has been included for the gym and community center, and parking lots will be spread around the aquatics center and other areas of the park, he said.

The covered walkways are designed to go over the drives, Trone said.

One look at the plan brings questions about its price tag, but the city has yet to come up with a specific cost. Construction could cost $10 million or more, however, and no funding has been identified yet.

``That's part of this process - finding money,'' Trone said.

Wayne Weber, city park development administrator, said the city will look into public-private partnerships that could help with funding.

Weber pointed to the climbing wall as an example.

``Maybe there's a company that would find it attractive to operate a facility like that,'' Weber said.

The sports complex draft master plan will probably lead to changes in the Central Park plan, which also includes an aquatics center, Weber said.

The Central Park plan was drafted before the city bought the Merle Norman site, Weber said. Residents who participated in the drafting of the sports complex plan agreed that the new site would be better for a large swim facility, he said.

``We don't need both, and this one may be even more centrally located,'' Weber said. ``There could still be a smaller pool facility at Central Park.''

The first phase of Central Park is under construction. The park is envisioned as the city's core active area, with fields for soccer, softball, football and other sports.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 1, 1998
Words:751
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