Whittier Narrows Area Discovery Center Under Review

Public comment period on plan will end soon.

By EGP News Service

The public has until Aug. 3 to comment on the recently released 900-page environmental impact report commissioned for the proposed $30 million San Gabriel River Discovery Center, a project that has received critical attention because of it’s cost and size and Whittier Narrows area location.

On June 24, the first of two public comment sessions was held after the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released June 5. The second public comment meeting is scheduled to take place on July 18. The report found that the project would have to mitigate some damages caused to the wildlife area. The report also presented four alternatives to the proposed project, three of which would reduce the size of the facility to 14,000 sq. ft, 10,000 sq. ft and 2,800 sq. ft and one that would cause no changes to the existing structure.

The proposed project would replace the existing 2,000 square foot nature center and it would include an 18,230 sq. ft., a one-story interpretive center (lobby, exhibit areas, classrooms, multipurpose room, staff and administrative space), a 150-car parking lot, an open-air classroom and a covered classroom, constructed wetlands/riparian area and a restoration area.

The stated purpose of the proposed multi-use facility would be to educate the public about the history and ecology of the San Gabriel River and increase awareness of the riparian and wildlife habitat found nestled between the 60 and 605 freeways.

Opponents, however, say the growth of the existing building to one nearly 10 times larger would have detrimental effects on local wildlife. They say the existing site just needs sprucing up and more funds for educational activities for local schoolchildren.

According to the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority web site, the project has raised nearly $10 million. Some of that money comes from water bonds from the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, which designated funds for an education facility such as the Discovery Center.

The public has until Aug. 3 to mail in their comments on the Draft EIR. The mail-in comments and those heard at the public meetings will be taken into account when the final EIR is written and presented to the Governing Board of the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority in late September, said Belinda Faustinos, executive director of the San Gabriel & Lower Los Angeles Rivers & Mountains Conservancy. The board, she said, will either adopt or reject the current proposed 18,230 sq. ft. project or any of the other four proposed alternatives.

The agencies pushing for the project are the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, the Central Basin Municipal Water District, County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.

The second public meeting regarding the contents of the Draft EIR on July 18 will be at South El Monte High School located at 1001 North Durfee Ave., in South El Monte from 2-4 p.m.

For more information about the proposed Discovery Center, the Draft EIR, or submitting comments, visit: http://discoverycenterauthority.org.

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July 2, 2009  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

3 Responses to “Whittier Narrows Area Discovery Center Under Review”

  1. Jessica Nava on July 3rd, 2009 9:01 am

    According to the draft EIR page ES-4 the project objective is to focus on the San Gabriel River watershed and watershed education.
    If they want to educate the public why do they have so many meetings scheduled? (Pg 2-32) Why in a unique area? Why are they refusing to rent the facility to the public for weddings & parties? Why build an artificial wetlands? Why isn’t the draft EIR available at the Nature Center in the Whittier Narrows Natural Area? Why isn’t it available in spanish and other languages?

  2. Letty Brooks on July 10th, 2009 7:06 am

    “The proposed project would not cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of a historical resource” Page ES-27
    !) Can you prove that the above is a true statement? How? Is there a study?
    2) Where is the assurance that the current Outdoor Education program won’t be replaced by the new indoor programs? Where?
    3) Are special events with 150 attendees (auditorium/parking lot) four times a week appropiate in a disignated SEA? Explain please.
    4) Where is the date that “appropiate management practices” will be enough to avoid the increased indirect Environmental (human) impacts? Page 4-3
    5) Why is there no mention of the current historic Outdoor Education program anywhere in the DEIR?
    6) Where can I see this “seamless flow” between the new and old programs in the DEIR or anywhere in writing?
    7) Isn’t the 2,800 SF Alternative a better option to meet the needs of the historic Outdoor Education programs? Explain how that could not be so.
    8) Why is not the 2,800 SF Alternative a better fit for the Water Squad Investivation program?

  3. John Doe on July 10th, 2009 7:53 am

    No comment!

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