The L.A. Recreation and Park Commissioners, including Palisadian Joe Halper, met on March 4 via Zoom.
Circling the News was particularly interested in two items on the agenda: the proposed playground replacement in Westwood and the Veterans’ Gardens approval in Pacific Palisades.
But first, General Manager of Department of Recreation and Parks Michael Shull announced that permits are now being allowed for outdoor competitive competitions at city recreation centers and that adult and youth leagues will gradually reopen.
Many recreation centers have served as childcare centers while schools have been closed, which has allowed parents to go to work, and a commissioner asked if RAP employees were considered essential workers and could receive the vaccination.
“Yes, [but] I don’t have a percentage [of the number of employees who have received vaccines],” Shull said. “I’ll have to report back, but yes a lot of employees are eligible.”
The Commissioners then heard projects on the agenda.
On Board Report 21-032, a $6,388,000 contract was bid to replace an existing pool on Hoover Street. There was a change order of more than $4 million, and the final contact amount was $10,410,407.
There were three arson incidents at the Hoover Street site, which resulted in $1,827,879 needed. “Errors and omissions” cost $368,226, and “change in scope” (a shade canopy structure) cost $1,826,407. The structure was not included in the bid package because there was no money, but “additional funding became available.”
One commissioner asked about the omissions. “Are we tracking omissions [by the people submitting bid packages]?” The commissioner noted that when items are left out, they come back to the commission as a change order, but that those items should be part of the original bid.
If no one is tracking these design firms, the commissioner suggested that maybe that should be done.
Board Report 21-033, Echo Park Skate Park, was to accept the project — a finished park.
One commissioner said that she had gone by the park and it’s “really phenomenal,” but “the skate park is closed.”
She was told that all of L.A. City skate parks are closed per the County pandemic order, which also includes outdoor basketball hoops.
“The skate parks are being used anyway,” the commissioner replied, noting that the kids climb the fence. “I don’t see any more contact at those parks than at a playground, and they are open.”
She asked if Rec and Parks officials could speak to the County and explain that skate parks are different from close encounter sports, such as basketball.
At Westwood Park, $1,350,000 for the replacement of the playground, Aidan’s Place, was sought for authorization. The playground, which opened in 2001, was the second universally accessible playground developed in the city. This project would include the demolition and removal of the existing children’s play areas and the construction of a new children play area and equipment in the same location, as well as associated turf, hardscape, landscaping and irrigation approval.
At the Commissioners meeting on Thursday, Rec and Parks employees said that outreach had been done in the Westwood community.
Then, residents, the president of a homeowner’s group, the president of the community council and the president of the neighborhood council insisted there had been no outreach and that there are more pressing needs at the park, including refurbishment of the rec center and pool area. The president of the homeowners group said, “Before you approve the additional funds, could you reach out to us? We feel there are other needs.”
The Westwood Council president said, “We were gobsmacked to find out you want to spend $1.3 million on the playground. If anyone in our community thought it needed to be replaced, I’d be the first to tell you to replace it.”
Circling the News knows of a playground that is once again heavily used, is handicapped inaccessible and is nearly 30 years old.
In 2014, the Palisades Park Advisory Board wanted to upgrade the Rec Center’s playground, which was nearly 20 years old and not ADA compliant. They had hoped that it could be turned into a universally accessible playground but were told by Rec and Parks officials that it was too expensive (unless the community wanted to pay for everything through fundraising).
The commissioners voted to hold the item, until the staff could come back with more outreach to the Westwood community.
The last item on the March 4 agenda involved the new Veterans’ Garden at the Palisades Recreation Center. The discussion was to include approval of signage, a new fence and the construction of a shed. However, the item was pulled, and most likely will be on the next agenda.
All residents are invited to listen/comment at Rec and Park Commission meetings, which are currently being held on Zoom.
PARK ADVISORY BOARD MEETS ON MARCH 10
If you would like to give local input regarding the Palisades Recreation Center, you can join the Park Advisory Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10 via Zoom.
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 886 6287 7583
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