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Los Encinos State Historic Park faces closure amid budget cuts

January 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Encinos State Historic Park is treasured by local residents, but it faces closure due to state budget cuts.

"Bringing him here, it's like having him out of the house and just running around in the sun. You can't replace that. You need places like these," said Encino resident Abraham Arakelian.

Residents of all ages say they cherish the park, calling it a hidden treasure.

"There are a few parks in this area, but this one is just the original that has a lot of history in it and there's something special about it, and unique. It's like a little getaway. You don't even know you're in the city when you're in this park," described Encino resident Andrey Godzhik.

The park, which sits at the corner of Balboa and Ventura boulevards, even includes an original adobe home built in the 1800s.

But soon, this respite from city life could disappear. It's one of 70 state parks on the chopping block. The state is tasked with cutting $11 million from the park budget this fiscal year, and officials say this park costs nearly $210,000 a year to maintain.

"It's a park that has a significant role in telling the story of California history, both the Native American cultural history, and the Mexican-Spanish settlements. It's in a metropolitan area, so it's accessible to over nine million residents, and it's just a really special place," said Rebekah Rodriguez-Lynn, the district director of Sen. Fran Pavley's office.

Now, community groups and Pavley's office have started a task force to save the park, planning community events to bring in revenue and generate donations.

"I just donated some money. I bought some food and gave them $50. I know it's not going to help, but if everybody donates a little bit, then we can keep this going," said Godzhik

And if that doesn't work, some regulars are contemplating more extreme measures.

"I would feel like I want to break into the park and feed the ducks again," said Woodland Hills resident Moogeh Salem.

People can make a tax deductible donation online at http://los-encinos.org or by mail, send your check made out to "Los Encinos Docents Association" to 16756 Moorpark Street, Encino CA 91436-1068.