Balboa Youth Sports Complex has been given another lease extension by Metropolitan Water District, and the teams that use the facility to play baseball and soccer will be able to continue using the site while new facilities in Sylmar are readied for players, which could take more than a year.
Mitch Englander, chief of staff for Councilman Greig Smith, told GigaGranadaHills that in a meeting held last Wednesday, an agreement was reached to extend the lease on the current location for "a year plus," preventing a gap that would have left the teams with nowhere to play until arrangements for the new Lakeside Basin location were finalized.
Englander said that 40% of the players using the current Granada Hills location were traveling from the Sylmar, Arleta and Pacoima areas, and this move will put the fields in closer reach for those team members. "There's a lot of kids that live over there that don't have access because they have parents that either don't have cars, single working parents -- it's a different socioeconomic situation just not that far away -- and this will allow access to even more kids to get involved."
Englander said that the new location and lease agreement, which is on land owned by DWP, is, unlike the current Balboa Blvd. location, is not a temporary location, but will be leased to the Department of Parks and Recreation in perpetuity.
Still, many Granada Hills residents are feeling a sense of loss over a place that has accumulated many sentimental attachments over the past two decades, as well as the more practical matter of the loss of a convenient, local recreation area. The new Sylmar location will be a "seven to ten minutes drive without any traffic" from the Balboa Complex, but "without traffic" isn't a given along the artery that connects to I-5 that many Santa Clarita residents, or "661-ers," use to commute home each day.
Yet Englander takes a more holistic view. "We look at this as there's no us versus them; there's only us, and we're all in this together. This is going to help a lot of kids in the San Fernando Valley, and help a lot of kids that hadn't had access before. The downside is we're losing this incredible, valuable asset out of our council district, but kids don't know what council districts and boundaries are; they just want to play."