Herald American

Downey to oversee county’s Rancho development project

DOWNEY — It’s a county project on county land and with county money, but the city will have a say on what goes there.

The City Council Sept. 13 established a subcommittee to oversee and advise the county on its proposed $468 million development on 80 acres south of the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center on Imperial Highway.

The subcommittee will be composed of the mayor and a council member to be changed over the four to five years of the project at council discretion.

Current Mayor Alex Saab and Councilman Sean Ashton will take the first shift, at least through December when a new mayor will be selected.

Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Vasquez, expected to be the next mayor, and Saab noted that historically the mayor has dealt with the county.

“My students for years have been asking what is going on there,” said Ashton, a school teacher whose District 2 covers the project area south of Imperial Highway on the southwest corner of the city. “I feel I should be part of it.”

Ashton was elected to the council two years ago so could serve on the subcommittee for the duration of the project, which is not expected to start for 18 months.

Community Development Director Aldo Schindler said county officials have indicated plans for athletic facilities including soccer fields, supported by staff, along with a new office building to consolidate staff of the Fourth Supervisorial District, presumably staffing it with people who will patronize nearby Downey stores and restaurants, Schindler said.

Saab said the county is expected to work with the city on developing the site for office and industrial use.

“They have encouraged city input,” Saab said. “The subcommittee will ensure that we speak with one voice.”

Councilman Roger Brossmer, whose council term ends in November, called for the subcommittee to keep council, staff and residents informed.

The south campus project is separate from the $418 million upgrade and expansion of the rehabilitation center north of Imperial Highway.

Brossmer also called for inclusion of the planned city facilities on the county site into the Downey Master Park Plan.

In other park-related action Sept. 13, the council approved hiring Playpower LT Farmington to purchase playground equipment for Independence Park and Apollo Park.

Interim Director of Parks and Recreation Sonya Meacham said financing will be from a county parks grant of about $300,000.

Work will be done by the Los Angeles County Conservation Corps, a volunteer group which performs municipal jobs.

The project includes site preparation, removal of sand and existing equipment and installation of the new equipment, Meacham said.

Work will be completed by Dec. 9, she added.