By Mary O’KEEFE
There have been some concerns voiced by CVW readers regarding Deukmejian Wilderness Park, including the Le Mesnager barn, and the funds that had been appropriated for a restoration project of the property.
In recent meetings, budget discussions between Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa and some city councilmembers have been confusing. Some of that confusion stems from terms used like “appropriated,” “re-appropriated” and the possibility of “de-appropriating” funding.
“I understand where the confusion could come from,” Ochoa said.
The $2.5 million that was appropriated for the Deukmejian project is still available. At the last budget meeting, there was another $500,000 requested.
“Jess [Duran, director of Community Services and Parks] and his team came back to us and [said] to realize the full vision [of the project], they would need another $500,000,” Ochoa said.
The money was available from the DIF (Development Impact Fees), which provided the funding for the original $2.5 million. Councilmembers did not want to use the DIF money for the additional funding of $500,000 so Ochoa suggested moving the funds out of the Verdugo Park improvement project and replenish with DIF monies. Because of this discussion, it appeared that the Deukemejian funding was either “all or nothing,” but Ochoa said that is not the case.
“The $2.5 million is still appropriated in the budget with another $500,000,” he said.
The work is expected to improve the barn and nature center including bathroom facilities.
But plans are not firm until the designs are done and approved by the Glendale City Council and the bids are sent out. The money can always be de-appropriated, not just for the Deukmejian project but for any project.
In the recent budget meeting, councilmember Vartan Gharpetian voiced concern about the funding for Deukmejian. Councilmember Zareh Sinanyan suggested that a petition signed in support of the project from residents in far north Glendale, La Crescenta, Pasadena and Tujunga needed to include signatures from those in south Glendale who would use the park.
Comments like these have added to the growing concerns of supporters that the Deukmejian improvements have a dark cloud hanging over the barn and park.
But Ochoa is more optimistic about Deukmejian’s future.
“The Council is showing good faith and is honoring the appropriation of the $2.5 million and appropriating the $500,000,” he said.