Conservancy Finds Support for Land Purchase

By Brandon HENSLEY

La Crescent residents and members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council are in support of a group purchasing the land atop Rosemont Avenue.

During the council’s Land Use Committee meeting Oct. 13, the council agreed to support the push for the acquisition of the land by the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy (AFC), which sits at the mouth of Goss Canyon.

The Conservancy is a non-profit land trust whose mission is to save wilderness land. Director John Howell, board member and La Crescenta resident Paul Rabinov and Vice President Lawren Markle spoke on behalf of the Conservancy at the meeting, telling residents their plan for the 7.75 acre parcel is to develop it into a preserved open space.

Howell and Rabinov spoke to the Town Council last month to garner support, and the council decided to discuss the issue more at its land use meeting.

The land is currently owned by Terri Villanueva, owner of The Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory.

It would cost the AFC $450,000 to buy the land, and Howell said they would need to be creative to come up with the money.

“We don’t have the money in our bank account. We have to go find it,” Howell said.

That means asking L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich for help.  The Supervisor’s office said it would be willing to help if residents showed enough support behind the AFC, and that seems to be the case. Howell said he wants to put together a package of letters supporting the purchase.

Howell did say the Conservancy could look to residents for the rest of the payment or other government agencies. Former Town Councilwoman Kim Matersteig said she supports the AFC, but was concerned about looking to residents to pay.

“I think that finding [personal] money is going to be extremely difficult,” she said.

Rabinov spoke about the process after the AFC potentially buys the land.

“The AFC plans to carry out a thorough biological study once the property has been secured,” said Rabinov. “Combined with the land management plan, that study would guide future efforts to restore habitat on the property, locate trails and determine what sort of programs we will have.

“This is not going to be a park,” he added. “This is going to be open natural space that’s going to be preserved and restored, and so the idea that we may do something [where] the debris coming down could damage [the property], it’s not an issue whatsoever.”

There were concerns by people at the meeting over what might happen 10 to 15 years down the line to the land, that the space might look different if the AFC were to somehow go away.

“Even if we were to disappear, the property would fall into another land trust with the same kind of mission as us,” said Markle.