By Jason KUROSU
Debate continues to swirl around the property formerly known as the Rockhaven Sanitarium in Montrose, the fate of which continues to hang in limbo since the city of Glendale purchased it for $8.25 million in 2008. The city has begun to tell developers that they would hear proposals for potential affordable housing developments, along with ideas for other projects. Meanwhile, the public continues to express concern over the possible loss of a historically significant property, which served as women’s care facility for 78 years.
The Crescenta Valley Community Association (CVCA), which regularly discusses land use issues, brought up the matter at its May 22 meeting.
Mike Lawler of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and the Friends of Rockhaven told the CVCA that the Friends of Rockhaven were introduced to the idea of a “public/private partnership development” which would aid in restoring and preserving the myriad buildings that make up Rockhaven.
“Although we hesitated, with a lot of gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair, we decided to give it a shot,” said Lawler.
Recently, around 30 to 40 individuals toured the grounds of Rockhaven, the first of two open houses for any interested parties. Another open house on Rockhaven’s grounds is scheduled for June 4.
The city issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) stating what they were looking for in a prospective developer. Among the criteria listed in the RFQ for any sort of development are the preservation of historic buildings on the property and measures for involving the community in the decision-making process.
But to some, the city’s talks with developers is the death knell for any sort of resolution that will reflect the public’s wishes, whether that be for historical preservation or a move away from overdevelopment.
Those attending the meeting were adamant about making their presence felt at future city council meetings, where they would request the city to slow down talks with developers.
Former city councilman John Drayman urged residents of La Crescenta to make their voices heard, especially because of what he described as clear intent towards development when the Rockhaven property was purchased.
“This was not just purchased in a vacuum to say, ‘Here, let’s just think up what we can do with it.’ Until the Crescenta Valley begins to speak with a voice, saying to the city, ‘This is what we want,’ you’re not going to get it,” said Drayman.
Drayman, who was on the city council at the time of the purchase, said, “They purchased it for a specific reason. A funding stream was created specifically for that property.”
City council candidates Paula Devine and Vartan Gharpetian were in attendance and offered their views on the subject.
Gharpetian said he “isn’t against development. I’m for responsible development.”
Gharpetian posited that the city’s recent interest in Rockhaven stems from Glendale’s hopes to expand and develop, such as the recent revitalization efforts of downtown Glendale and the arts and entertainment district. Gharpetian said this expansion may be happening too quickly, and suggested a potential local history museum on Rockhaven’s grounds.
Devine said that any development the city pursues would be less than the 80-unit housing development once believed was a possibility.
“The plan is to bring in developers who know they have to preserve the integrity of that historic site and, if there’s any development, it is not zoned for 80 units. It is zoned for a small development that must mimic the neighborhood,” said Devine.
The residents present agreed to draft a letter to Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa urging him to put a hold on the RFQ process and offer more community meetings regarding Rockhaven.
According to the RFQ, interested developers have until July 2 to submit statements of qualifications.