Michael Shull, head of L.A. Recreation and Parks, toured the Palisades Recreation Center on September 5, 2018.
Afterwards, he stayed for the Park Advisory Board (PAB) meeting and heard that the top two projects listed for this park were replacing the playground and fixing the bathrooms. Neither are handicap accessible.
Schull doubted there was money in the budget to address both but suggested that if the PAB put together a plan of what they thought was most important, there would be money to start a project.
At an October 2018 PAB meeting, Palisades Recreation Center Director Erich Haas said the board had to decide about the park’s bathrooms because they need to be renovated and made handicapped accessible.
Board members suggested that perhaps a priority list for projects be re-examined and brought forward for the next quarterly meeting.
At a July 2019 meeting, PAB members were told that the office windows, which had not been replaced since the building was constructed in the late forties, would not close or open.
Haas said, “I’ve asked the City to pay for replacing the windows for health reasons.”
Circling the News reached out to Shull after this meeting regarding the windows and other necessary repairs.
He replied in a July 24 email to CTN: “I have staff actively pursuing funding opportunities. I agree there is work needed at this facility and I hope to see some movement on repairs this year.”
Shull added, “I will be following up regularly on status.”
And he did. He emailed the newest PAB member, Maryam Zar, and asked her if the board would prioritize a list of five items he had sent her. He told her the money for repairs was not coming from Quimby funds. CTN asked Zar if she knew where the money would come from, but she did not know. She said that Shull said he had some money for repairs.
On Wednesday night this week, after much discussion, the PAB voted 7-2 and prioritized the following list:
- Window replacement in the office;
- Restroom remodel to make it ADA compliant;
- Resurface the parking lot;
- Internet for the park (and attendant WiFi) and T-1 wiring for the lobby of the big gym.
- Replace the playground with one that is ADA accessible (and not a Universal playground). The PAB had voted for the later in 2014.
The difference in cost between an ADA-compliant playground, which is what L.A. City builds, and a Universal playground is about $500,000. There are three types of playgrounds.
ADA compliant allows a child in a wheelchair to get in and around on the playground but does not necessarily allow the child to use the equipment.
Accessible playgrounds are built so that a person using a wheelchair may use the equipment. It may have pieces that move or make music, and there may be an accessible swing seat and quiet places for children.
Inclusive or universally accessible playgrounds go a step further than accessible by challenging every child at his or her level.
Madeline Hyman, who has served on the board for eight years and retired at last night’s meeting, suggested that the Palisades should still try to get a Universal playground. She suggested that the vote include asking if the community could raise the difference between accessible and universal. Lynn Hylen agreed with Hyman, but the two were voted down.