By Mary O’KEEFE
A town hall meeting will be held on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Rosemont Middle School’s cafeteria to share information concerning the future of the newly acquired Rosemont Preserve.
The Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy is in the process of purchasing the 7.75-acre property at the top of Rosemont Avenue in Goss Canyon and have been working with community members on how to guide the land’s future.
From the beginning it has been important to the Conservancy to gather the community’s opinions concerning the land.
“We want community involvement,” said Paul Rabinov, La Crescenta resident and preserve supporter.
The Conservancy has already had several meetings with neighbors and local agencies, including the Crescenta Valley Town Council, concerning what they would like to see done with the property.
“It is remarkable on how many people have an opinion and a connection with the property,” said Rabinov. “They have a sense of ownership.”
Several local youth organizations have already contacted the Conservancy and offered their help in conservation efforts and fundraising.
One of the ideas that has come from past meetings with residents is to have the land be an educational destination for local schools. Second graders can hike the property as part of their science curriculum. Girl and Boy Scout troops have offered their support with any conservation programs that may be needed. There have been suggestions of docent-guided tours of the land that would include a focus on the history of the area or an environmental tour.
The Monday meeting will have an open discussion on what the community would like to see happen to the area. There will be a biologist on hand to answer questions concerning the environmental make up including the wildlife.
John Howell, executive director of the Conservancy, added that the meeting is also a chance for community members who do not live near the property and may not know the area to learn about the land, the Conservancy and be part of the discussion.
“It is interesting that some of the people who have taken tours do not know the [property],” he said.
Many may have passed by the area but did not know what laid just beyond the fence at the top of Rosemont Avenue.
The Conservancy had discussed the purchase of the land for about four years. In 2005 it had been purchased by the owner of The Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory school with an initial plan to build a school at the location. The community spoke up against the land being developed and the owners then began to work with the Conservancy.
A majority of the funding was granted to the Conservancy from Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office. At this point, 81% of the funds needed have been raised and the rest is being sought with the help of local fundraisers.
The local aspects of both fundraising and volunteer support is a key component of the land purchase and development. Crescenta Valley is known for its spirit and supportive nature. It was that community character that helped the Conservancy receive the Antonovich funding.
“We did our homework on the community,” Howell said.
The Conservancy knew the tasks of purchasing and organizing the land’s use would be daunting if they were to do it alone. It was important to know that the residents of the area wanted the land to remain untouched by development.
“When we first went to [Antonovich’s office] we were told there wasn’t a lot of funding, but then we told them it was for Rosemont and the La Crescenta area and that changed things,” Howell said.
He added that the reputation of the supportive nature of the community was well known by Antonovich’s office.
Participants at Monday’s town hall meeting will be able to be part of building a foundation of conservation and environmental protection that will leave open land for future generations.
For more information or to donate to the Rosemont Preserve, visit www.arroyosfoothills.org.
Rosemont Middle School, 4725 Rosemont Ave.