The athletic field of the Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCUHS) is closed to neighborhood walkers after a recent rash of break-ins in the neighborhood. John Scaringe, president of the university, said the closure “may not be a permanent thing,” but calls to university staff for more information have not been returned.
Jean Wall of the Whittier County Community Coordinating Council convened a community meeting at SCUHS on July 17 to alert the neighborhoods of East Whittier to a recent spate of home and car break-ins. According to people who attended that meeting (I did not), Joe Eggleston, Director of Auxiliary Services at the university, said there had been cars broken into in the parking lot adjacent to the track.
The university, on First Avenue a block north of Imperial Highway, is on the site of the former Lowell High School, closed in 1980 due to declining enrollments. Some local residents have been walking on the track for since it was part of the high school, and are disappointed at losing access.
“I just think it’s a tragedy that the community can’t come out in the morning and take a refreshing walk,” said Cindy Feinzimer, who grew up in La Habra. She had driven from her current home in La Mirada to walk on the track last Thursday, but was asked to leave by a security guard.
The entrance to the track is blocked by a sign on a saw horse, but the signs keep disappearing, the saw horse keeps moving, and people keep coming back.
“Stuff like this you have to meet head on,” said John Ramirez after he finished his walk.
Les Hawkins, another local using the track to exercise, thinks the university went back on their word to keep the track open.
“When they bought this from the school they announced right away that nothing would change,” he said.
Except for a brief encounter with Scaringe, I have not been able to reach anyone from the university who is willing to speak to this issue.
UPDATE 12/3/10: Joe Eggleston confirmed today that the athletic field was reopened about two weeks ago to members of the community who want to use the track. “The community is allowed access from dawn until dusk,” he said. “The insurance company is happy, everybody is happy.”