It only took 13 years, but Palisades Recreation Center Director Erich Haas finally prevailed.
Built in 1958, the Rec Center office was finally renovated in May, June and July—just in time for Haas, who is nearing retirement, to celebrate his final few months here working in a clean environment.
The $72,000 project included replacing the ceiling, flooring, windows and electrical, installing five computer workstations and bringing in new office furniture.
Haas had tried for years just to get new office windows, given that these windows could not be opened because they had rusted in place. Office staff can now enjoy the prevailing ocean breezes.
The impetus to push the project forward came at a Palisades Park Advisory Board meeting in July 2019, when Haas told the board that the toilets in the building’s public bathroom had backed up again and sewage had spilled not only into the small gym, but also the offices.
“Something in this office is making my people sick,” Haas told the board. “Health issues need to be addressed by the City.”
PAB President Mike Skinner said, “This is serious,” and the Board sent a letter to L.A. City Rec and Parks asking for them to take action.
Circling the News reached out to L.A. City Rec and Parks Director Michael Shull about the structure in July 2019.
He replied by 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.”
Almost a year later, on May 21, the L.A. Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners approved the long-awaited construction at 851 Alma Real, with money coming from Quimby Funds. The project started almost immediately.
Two new Dutch entry doors were installed, and the office bathroom and electrical room were repaired and painted.
Security screens are in the process of being installed, so they can be locked and unlocked from the inside, so that in case of an emergency, staff can exit through the windows.
When Circling the News visited the office, the air inside was clean and fresh. Haas is still trying to see if an air conditioner can be installed but is really pleased with the renovation. “I’m leaving this in great shape for the next person,” he said.
Haas noted that although the big gym still doesn’t have Wi-Fi or phones, the city will soon clean the rafters (which are laden with two decades of dust) and the windows.