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Water Ski Or Wetlands?

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It is a joy to cover the history of our Region in this Column.

From Martians on the beach at Dockweiler, to Civil War Troops camped along Ballona Creek, to Shelby Mustangs built on the LAX runways to an Olympic event staged in Westchester, our town is rich with a long wonderful history of never ending events.

Recently, I was going over some of the many letters I have received this year; questions about the Westchester “Cat-Woman,” the Trails Restaurant operated by Esther Williams; who passed away this past June, and other restaurants such as Lum’s, the Buggy Whip, the Sandpiper, the Hungry Tiger, and Jake’s On The Hill. Celebrities such as Howard Hughes, Loretta Young, Cecil B. DeMille, Bob Denver, and so many more topics; the Wetlands, Surfridge and LMU.

While friends of ours were freezing in Chicago, this past Christmastime we enjoyed several days of 80 degrees plus weather; more like surfing or water skiing weather. As for the latter, I just sold my 15-year-old ski boat, so I will be not be doing any skiing for a while.

Speaking of water skiing, would you be surprised to learn that the City Fathers at one point wanted to make Westchester and Playa Del Rey into a world-class ski resort?

In 1962, the Pacific Coast Speed Boat and Water Ski Association and the City of Los Angeles made plans to build a huge aquatic park just off Lincoln Boulevard, across the street from what is now Playa Vista. This was going to be built around the same time that Marina Del Rey opened.

The water ski course would have run for miles; from Lincoln Boulevard west to Nicholson Street, and connected by navigable water, Westchester and Playa Del Rey. The area, sitting at about 18 or 20 feet above sea level, would have been easily flooded, and was and is already partially flooded. It would have also re-routed Culver Boulevard along the base of the Bluffs in Hastings and Cabora Canyons.

Today of course, this area is the Ballona Wetlands, one of the last significant estuary wetlands in Southern California; although a very small section of the original land remains today.

The estuary is home for such wildlife as: Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egret rookeries, the California Killifish, the California Least Tern, and the Belding's Savannah sparrow. The Ballona Wetlands and the adjacent city-owned lagoons are a stop along the migratory Pacific Flyway.

PHOTO:

DEL REY AQUATIC PARK, 1962. The proposed aquatic park would have built on the Playa Del Rey Wetlands, near Culver and Lincoln Boulevards. The area would wrap around a central island, with landings and recreational facilities on the perimeter, including a hotel and other tourist facilities. (Complements, Beach Of The King, Author.).

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