“I’m committed to bringing the people of Sun Valley a place of rest and recreation. If you’re 80 years old or 8 months old, you will enjoy this park.” When the Sheldon-Arleta dump filled up in 1974, it was covered with dirt and a system for landfill gas treatment was installed. Located near the intersection of the 170 and 5 freeways, the dump site has rattled the nerves of neighbors who worry about methane leaks. Now that the dump has had a chance to settle, city engineers are replacing its outdated gas collection system with five miles of new pipe. Phase I of the recreation center, set for completion by 2008, also will include 100 new or refurbished gas wells and a new flaring station. “This satisfies the needs of the entire community,” said Al Piantanida of Arleta, a community activist who once dumped car batteries at the old landfill. “Phase I is the biggest part of the deal.” Money permitting, the park will include soccer fields, baseball and softball fields, basketball courts, a community center and paths for walking or jogging. Of its projected $35 million cost, two-thirds has been raised by voter-initiated Proposition O watershed funds and other sources. The Department of Water & Power, which contributed $5 million, expects to capture 45,000 acre-feet for groundwater reclamation. Residents and officials hailed the park – to be built near two high schools – as a future recreational hub for the northeast San Fernando Valley. A victim of industrial blight, Sun Valley was declared the city’s first Environmental Justice Improvement Area. Tree coverage is estimated at 13 percent, among the lowest rate in the city. “This is a wonderful day for the community,” said Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager for the Department of Recreation and Parks. “I was born in Pacoima … and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of taking a landfill and turning it into a park. “We need parks to build communities, to be the cultural heritage of our future – and what better way than to name it after Cesar Chavez.” D.J. Gay, one of a dozen Polytechnic High School students to attend the ceremony, said the park will provide a badly needed place to play ball. “I think this is a great achievement, something the community needs, a place to get away,” said Gay, 18, of Sun Valley and a Poly varsity basketball point guard. “This provides more freedom for people.” [email protected] (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SUN VALLEY – For years, neighbors wrinkled their noses at the stinking dump, where cackling sea gulls swirled overhead. Three decades after the last trash truck rolled into the Sheldon-Arleta landfill, a 41-acre recreational park will be built on top of its dirt-covered garbage. City officials broke ground Thursday on the $35 million Cesar Chavez Recreation Complex set to become an oasis of ball fields and bike paths by 2011. “This is our baby, the community’s baby,” said Councilman Tony Cardenas during a windblown ceremony of top officials from the city’s water, recreation, engineering, environmental and sanitation departments.