On Valentine's Day, the fifth anniversary of his closing of Chatsworth Park South, Councilman Mitch Englander announced the reopening of the gym as a first step to reopen the park.
The park was chained shut in 2008 after lead and other contaminants were discovered in the soil.
Activities will return to the gym in two weeks, Englander told a news conference held at the site. Mike DeYoung of the U.S. Quad Rugby Association, said his wheelchair soccer, hockey and rugby teams would return in April.
The association, whose members had used the gymnasium for many years, were displaced when the park was closed. They have been playing at a facility in Lake View Terrace. In order to ensure that the wheelchair teams can resume their practices and games at the gymnasium, Englander earlier pledged to cover part of the cost of their usage fees.
Because the Parks Department has no budget to staff the gym during the current fiscal year, fee-based permits are required to use the building.
The park will continue to be off-limits and surrounded by a chain-link fence until a cleanup is complete. Only the parking lot and the road to the gym will be available. The park will be gated when the gym is not in use, Recreation Supervisor Steven Cline said.
The gym, opened in 1990, was constructed with surplus funds provided by the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics specifically for use by physically challenged individuals.
Englander said it cost $80,000 to make remove graffiti, fix broken backboards and repair the gym floor damaged by vandals during the gym's closure. Now the building is ringed with motion-sensing security cameras. Cline said the system has already been used to stop several graffiti vandals.
The deteriorating gym floor was replaced in 2009 after the park closed using $100,000 in Proposition K indebtedness.
The soil contaminants came from lead pellets and clay pigeon fragments left behind from when the property was used as a skeet shooting range in the 1960s. The city purchased it and turned it into a public park in 1978.
The Department of Recreation and Parks and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) entered into a voluntary clean-up agreement, and the city began work with contractors on the assessment and clean-up process, which is ongoing.
Englander said Thursday, that a conservative estimate to remove the contaminated soil would be $7 million. The target date is 2015.
He intervened shortly after the closure to have the Chatsworth Historical Society’s Museum and the cultural-historical monument Homestead Acre and Minnie Palmer Cottage examined and then reopened for the public once it was found to safe and free of contamination.
Read More about Chatsworth Park South:
- Park Tainted by Lead from Roy Rogers' Days May Reopen
- Chatsworth's Homestead Acre Is an L.A. Cultural Monument
- Teen Rescued After Fall at Chatsworth Park South
- Neighborhood Council Backs Action on State Historic Park
- Chatsworth Park South a Target for Vandalism
- No Reopening Date Yet for Chatsworth Park South
- City Presses Forward to Open Chatsworth Park South
- Parts of Chatsworth Park South Might Open as Soon as This Summer
- Fire Hazard to be Removed Soon from Chatsworth Park South
- Have Opinions on Opening Chatsworth Park South? Get a Survey Here
- Chatsworth Neighborhood Council Tackles a List of Local Issues
- Reopening of Chatsworth Park South Gymnasium to Be Announced