Concern Over Crescenta Commons, 710 Tunnel at CVTC

CV Youth Town Council liaison Elektra Mirzakhanian  briefed the town council on the first meeting of the 2014 youth town council and the events it will be supporting.
CV Youth Town Council liaison Elektra Mirzakhanian briefed the town council on the first meeting of the 2014 youth town council and the events it will be supporting.

By Brandon HENSLEY

Former Crescenta Valley Town Council member Marti Marshall urged those involved in Scouts to be wary of council during the
Aug. 21 CTVC meeting. She also told the council it should be “ashamed of itself” over how it has handled the planning and development of the Crescenta Commons.

Crescenta Commons is a vacant property on the corner on Rosemont and Orange avenues, east of Monte Vista Elementary. Plans are in place to develop it into a park-like area with benches and a sundial. It has been reported that Ines Chessum, a local architect, and a Boy Scout were working together on the beautification project.

During the meeting, Marshall, a former CVTC member, stood up from the audience and went to the front of the room to admonish council over what she perceives to be a slight on how the Scout, whom she did not name, and his ideas are being treated.

Once the plans were approved, Marshall said the Scout raised $7,589.21 for the project, and that problems arose with Chessum and the Scout when changes were proposed. Marshall said the Scout was working on a change to implement paving stones.

“[It] would have made this corner the most beautiful in all of La Crescenta for under half the funds raised,” she said. “CV Town Council refused to allow or work with the no-name Scout to take the plans back for any change so now you will get decomposed granite.”

Marshall said the Scout was shut out by council on other parts of the project. She said he would have finished his scope of the project as approved by Los Angeles County by the end of June and would have been under budget, leaving funds for the stone monument that is planned. She said council refused to release the funds raised to purchase items needed, adding that benches and donor plaques were already purchased from those funds and are in the hands of council, leaving $5,310.77 in the commons account.

“The CV Town Council should be ashamed of their treatment of this no-name Scout. I urge all Scouts in the area to be wary of the CV Town Council,” Marshall said.

CVTC president Robbyn Battles then called Chessum to let her speak.  Chessum called the Crescenta Commons a huge undertaking and said she thought no one – the Scouts, herself nor council – really knew how vast and ambitious a project this really was.

The center of the proposed project will be a sundial, Chessum said.

“It will show the length of summer and winter days, so that will have some educational value for children in elementary school,” she said. “In order to complete the circle, we came up with the idea of making tiles that will be different colors that will mark these milestones in the sundial.”

She said there will be hand-made tiles that will be sold for additional funds. The tentative date scheduled for completion of the Crescenta Commons is late September. More information can be found at

On behalf of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and Friends of Rockhaven, Joanna Linkchorst updated the audience on what is happening with the Rockhaven property, on the 2700 block of Honolulu Avenue. It had been reported the former women’s mental health facility will remain untouched for another year after the city of Glendale and the Rockhaven committee could not reach an agreement.

Linkchorst said she would like an open park to be developed, with an educational component included.

“This place represents women’s history, mental health history, architectural history, California history. It’s a fabulous, fabulous place,” she said. “Obviously the biggest hurdle is going to be money.”

Linkchorst said the buildings would be rehabilitated and occupied in one way or another.

The last big issue of the meeting centered on the continuing saga of the 710 Freeway tunnel expansion. Glendale, La Crescenta, Los Angeles, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre and La Cañada have all taken formal opposing positions to the project, a 4.9-mile tunnel connecting Interstate 710 from Alhambra to the 134/210 interchange in Pasadena.

MTA boardmember Ara Najarian and former State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino spoke to the audience about their desire to see this plan fail. They cited the rising cost, as well as health and safety concerns, as main reasons the project should be opposed.

“Once you enter the tunnel, you can’t get out until you reach the other end five miles away … a tunnel filled with freight trucks and semi-trucks barreling down as fast as they can to get their goods to northern California and the rest of the country,” Najarian said.

He added accidents in the tunnel would be more dangerous.

“In a tunnel, that’s going to be like an oven and anyone within two miles of that accident is either going to die from the heat or from the noxious fumes.”

Portantino focused on the economics of the plan.

“Who would hire a contractor to build an addition on your house if you didn’t know how many square feet he or she was going to build and if you didn’t know how many people were going to move into your house?” he asked. “Would anybody hire a contractor to do that?

“We’ve already probably spent $150 million advocating for a project we have no answers for,” Portantino said.

The EIR (Environmental Impact Report) will be ready in early 2015, Najarian said, and 90 days later the vote will be on the agenda of the MTA board. He urged the public to speak to County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

“He is a powerful figure in local politics. His opinion against this tunnel would essentially set it back, if not kill it,” Najarian said.

The next CVTC meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18 in the La Crescenta Library Community Room, 2809 La Crescenta Ave., at 7 p.m.

  • Some points of clarification regarding Crescenta Commons: The project from the inception was always the responsibility of CV Town Council. Chessum was the designer for the site. She donated a full set of working blue prints and other items in order for permits to be obtained for the project. County donated all permits on behalf of the CV Town Council. County would not allow pavers on the site. Funds raised when the project began as an Eagle Project are currently being used to complete the entire site including the monument, as well as all items included on the final plan. The CV Town Council continues to have a very positive working relationship with the Scouts. Many scouts and scout leaders have been lending a hand on the site workdays. We are very thankful for their help as well as the many community members that have worked on site and supported this project for the last 3 years.