Herald American

MTA wants Hollywood Sports Park for transit yard

BELLFLOWER — City officials and operators of Hollywood Sports Park expressed shock and surprise June 26 at plans to study the use of the 21-acre city-owned site southeast of Lakewood and Somerset boulevards as a light rail transit yard by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“I feel we have been betrayed,” City Manager Jeffrey L. Stewart said of the Eco-Rapid Transit Board, which he said was told by city staff they did not want that site as a rail yard.

“We will stop this right now,” he said.

The council approved a resolution demanding that the Bellflower site be removed from future study, saying the “current philosophy of the Bellflower City Council is to maintain the open space, generally known as Hollywood Sports Park, for recreational use.”

Hollywood Sports Park operators Giovanni D’Egidio and Dennis Rakowski lease the site from the city and offer such activities as paintball, wall climbing, beach volleyball and BMX bike racing, plus dining areas.

Bellflower officials said they would present the resolution at the next monthly meeting of the Eco-Rapid Board July 22 at its Paramount headquarters, 16401 Paramount Blvd.

D’Egidio told council he first thought the city was negotiating behind his back and he did not learn of the plan until the study was discussed at a MTA meeting in Huntington Park June 24. He later said, “I believe the city has our backs.”

The Eco-Rapid Transit Board is a regional group planning a light rail system along abandoned Union Pacific Railroad tracks through their communities. The right of way, owned by the MTA, extends through Artesia, Cerritos, Bellflower, Paramount, Downey, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park and Vernon into Union Station in Los Angeles.

It’s board of directors is made up of representatives from the affected cities.

The 20-mile route is called the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor. Construction is slated to start until 2022.

“We support the rail line but not the transit yard,” Bellflower Mayor Pro Tem Ray Dunton said.

Councilman Juan Garza, who represents Bellflower on the Eco-Rapid Transit Board, said June 26 the study by a consultant was discussed by the board in May but he did not realize until the results of the study came out June 14 that the Bellflower site was included.

The study states there would be room for 56 vehicles on the Bellflower site, which would cost from $300 to $400 million to purchase and remodel.

Other possible sites in the study are:

  • A 23-acre site in Cudahy at the northeast corner of Atlantic Avenue and Patata Street, mostly vacant but occupied by some industrial storage units, which would hold about 63 vehicles. Cost is estimated at $300 to $400 million.
  • About 41 acres in South Gate, east of the Long Beach (710) Freeway at Frontage Road, south of Southern Avenue. It could accommodate about 96 vehicles and cost $500 to $600 million. The area is mostly vacant but with some industrial use.
  • A 27-acre site in Paramount west of Paramount Boulevard and north of Somerset Boulevard, now used as a swap meet site.

The report states that Cudahy and South Gate staffs have tentatively supported the sites in their cities while Bellflower has not.

D’Egidio said the loss of the park would result in loss of area jobs and loss of revenue to Bellflower. He told a reporter the “park is doing great,” with an estimated 100,000 visitors a year.