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STUDY PANEL PROPOSED FOR SPORTS PLAN.

Byline: Enrique Rivero Daily News Staff Writer

Councilman Michael Markey wants a committee of city leaders to assess concerns about a proposed sports complex at Conejo Creek Park South and options for adding facilities without mingling private money and public land.

The ad hoc committee of city, parks and school leaders could ascertain community desires while serving as an information pipeline between residents and the business partnership that has proposed the sprawling Sport X complex, Markey said. At the same time, the committee could examine support for a bond issue or other options for publicly financed improvements.

"My thought is that if we build those fields and facilities, that will deter other people from coming in and putting something else in," Markey said.

The 60-acre park off Janss Road east of the Moorpark Freeway, now owned by the Conejo Recreation and Park District and the Conejo Valley Unified School District, is home to Conejo Valley Days and is used by the American Youth Soccer Organization.

Sport X is still only at the conceptual stage. A formal proposal has not been drafted. Neither of the public agencies involved has made any decision regarding the project and use of the land.

As envisioned by a business partnership, headed by Westlake Village businessman Dave Gulbranson, Sport X would include an event center of up to 200,000 square feet for basketball, volleyball and other activities.

City residents who turned out at an earlier Town Hall meeting and a City Council workshop Tuesday - for updating the open-space section of the city's General Plan - said the proposed sports center would bring noise, traffic, pollution, crime and other problems to their neighborhoods.

Gulbranson, however, said that opponents are a vocal minority and that he will continue trying to develop his plan for Sport X.

"I think that plan is pretty solid, pretty good. It's the right time, and it doesn't require public money," he said Thursday.

The ad hoc committee's members would be drawn from the council, park and school districts, Markey said. Any bond measure would have to be approved by the park and school districts before the city could put it on the ballot.

If there is a bond election, it could come as early as November, Markey said. Among other ways to finance park improvements is the city's bedroom tax, which some council members say could be increased with support from voters.

"I think it needs to go to the vote of the people to see what they want," Markey said. "There (are) a lot of alternatives out there."

Mayor Andrew Fox said he believes the city should become an "active partner" in fixing up the park, but doubts a bond election would be appropriate just for the park.

The city, park and school districts are jointly working toward creating more community recreational opportunities, possibly by passing a bond measure to build junior high school gymnasiums, he said.

"I wouldn't support a bond just for open space, we have plenty of open space," he said. "If we roll this park area into the school gymnasium measure, that would be great."

Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski said there is already enough money from the city's hotel and bedroom tax to pay for the park's upkeep.

"Small improvements to the most intensely used park in the city do not require a bond measure," she said. "That's overkill."

Tommi Denney, secretary for a homeowners' grouping calling itself Keep Our Parks Public, said her primary concern is to see that any park development meets the desires of local residents. In general, residents want the park kept as it is, with the possible addition of some bathrooms and improved lighting, she said Thursday.

"What we are trying to ensure is that that property down there is developed according to public needs and public opinion," Denney said. "After all, it is public land."

The City Council will discuss the proposal for the ad hoc committee when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Forum Theatre at the Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 1, 1996
Words:675
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