A&F Conservancy christens Rosemont Preserve in La Crescenta


OPEN SPACES: The area at the end of Rosemont Avenue in La Crescenta is a mix of private property, flood control access and now eight acres purchased by the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy. (Jim Burns)

Saturday was a good day in La Crescenta, Calif., at least for those who care about open space in our congested Los Angeles basin.

The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy officially opened its latest acquisition, the 7.75-acre Rosemont Preserve. The land is situated behind a gate  at the mouth of Goss Canyon, which is then backed by an additional 300 acres  maintained, according to conservancy press materials, as mostly wilderness over the decades by private landowners. The gate will remain locked to control access to the property.

Scheduled to appear during the fete was  L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who spearheaded $350,000 in grant money to acquire the now-protected acreage. Donors made up the additional $100,000, which included  contributions of $250 from assembly members Mike Gatto (D-43rd district) and $500 from Anthony Portatino (D-44th district).  According to Gatto’s office, he also helped to raise $10,000 toward the purchase. The sale price of $450,000 was under market value. The real estate site Zillow estimates one home situated on over two acres at the top of Rosemont Avenue at about $883,000.

Preserving the land secures habitat for a range of wildlife, including mule deer, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, coyotes and Arroyo toads, as well as at least 31 bird species, according to the conservancy.

Although it is a win for the area’s wildlife and for groups, most likely school children and volunteers who can access the property through the conservancy, the location remains problematic, at least for neighbors who fear for their serenity because of the newly acquired access. Indeed,while early guests arrived, one resident whose home is next to the gate asked for reassurance from John Howell, executive director and general counsel.

‘X’ MARKS THE SPOT: Local heavies, volunteers and donors were on hand to inaugurate the Rosemont Preserve in La Crescenta Saturday. (Jim Burns)

“They are understandably concerned. It’s been shut off forever. They are concerned about just opening the gates, having it be an open space. It’s not, it will be controlled access,” he said during an interview earlier in the week. “But probably more telling, more significant than that in terms of having it be controlled access is that there’s a neighbor to the north who owns 212 acres.

“So the worst thing that could happen, you know, is announce it, here it is, then a week later she’s got people on her property. She’s got webcams. The first words out of her mouth when I first met her were, ‘I just want you to guarantee that nobody’s going to come on my property. Period.’ So, we’re going to try to turn that negative into a positive.”

Apparently, neighbors had a hand in nixing another plan for the property, to turn it into a school in 2005. The owners of La Canada Preparatory then eventually sold to A&FC during negotiations that first began in 2007.

The next steps for the conservancy, the neighbors and property owners in the area will be about public access.

” It’s a two-step thing: save it and acquire it, and then what do you do with it then?” Howell said.  ” Steward it, husband it and have it be a resource to the community. So we’re going kick off something called the Rosemont Society, which will be (composed of) folks who want to participate on a volunteer basis to help us manage the property.”

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