SOUTH EL MONTE — new nature center starring the San Gabriel River is finally moving forward, with the biggest contribution so far now on the table. The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy is expected Monday to approve $3 million in state water quality bonds for the long awaited San Gabriel River Discovery Center, which features a 16,000-square-foot “green’ building with an auditorium, classrooms and exhibits on river ecology. “We’re prepared to make that recommendation to the board for approval,’ said Belinda Faustinos, the conservancy’s director. The facility will be on the site of the Whittier Narrows Nature Center. The first phase of the project, including planning and schematic design, is about 65 percent complete. Actual construction on the building will probably not begin until at least 2008, because of the amount of time it will take to raise the rest of the money for the project and gather public input, Faustinos said. @Tagline columnist: Shirley Hsu can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week The money comes from Proposition 50 bonds passed in 2002, of which the conservancy received $20 million, Faustinos said. The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District has chipped in $750,000, and the County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County has contributed $100,000. The Central Basin Municipal Water District has authorized $100,000 but has committed more, Faustinos said. The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation has committed to funding the costs of complying with the California Environmental Quality Act. The project will cost $12 million to $15 million, Faustinos said. The building is designed to be energy and water efficient with a “green roof’ covered with plants to help with heating and cooling, natural air circulation, daylighting, gray water recycling and ultra low flush toilets. Native plants will surround the building, along with an outdoor classroom. The idea for the center was conceived of about five years ago, said Sam Pedroza, sanitation districts spokesman. “At that time, there was a lot of attention being paid to the river,’ he said.