The Palisades Park Advisory Board held its quarterly meeting on July 20 in the small gym, where there was no air conditioning, no Wifi. The rotary fan was eventually turned off because it was so loud, that it made it hard to hear people speaking.
Here is a quick summary:
The bathrooms, playground and portions of the Palisades Recreation Center are not ADA accessible. The bathrooms were built in the 1950s, the playground in 1994.
The parking lot has not been repaved in at least 40 years.
The lights at the tennis court are not LED, nor environmentally efficient, and were installed in the 1950s and 1960s.
ADA INACCESSIBLE CENTER:
The topic of ADA inaccessible restrooms and a playground were once again mentioned at this meeting. Park Director Jasmine Dowlatshahi said that an ADA inspector had come to the park in April and made a report, and there were other issues as well.
She was asked if the PAB board could see the report. Dowlatshahi sent an email to a superior to see if she could share the report and was told “That might take a CPRA (California Public Records Act) to obtain. Let me ask the Department of Disability of we are allowed to share the findings with the public or the PAB in this case.”
What else might be a problem for those with disabilities or seniors in wheelchairs besides the bathrooms? Most likely trying to access the ball fields to watch a grandchild play or perhaps the parking lot, which is cracked and riddled with holes.
PARKING LOT NEEDS PAVING:
In 2019, CTN ran this item “The long-needed resurfacing of the Palisades Recreation Center parking lot was once again discussed at the Park Advisory Board meeting on October 16, in the small gym at the Rec Center.
Brian Shea, the 5/10K Will Rogers Run director, has asked for years to have the parking lot repaved. It is uneven and filled with potholes and spaces between the cement curb and the edge of the pavement.
“It’s never been done in the 42 years that I’ve headed the race,” he told Circling the News.
During public comment at the July 20, 2023, meeting, this editor reminded PAB members that in January, they said they would send a letter to RAP about the parking lot. CTN asked for an update.
PAB members turned to Michael Amster, who is the field deputy for City Councilmember Traci Parks, and who was in attendance. He was asked if he could follow up.
TENNIS LIGHTS AT REC CENTER:
In a January 2022 story, Tennis Center director Mike Tomas told the PAB, “The tennis lights are from the 1950s and 1960s; they are not energy efficient.” (The lights on Court 7-8 were installed in the 1970s). He also pointed out that with different poles, the lights could be lowered and more focused, thus projecting less light pollution.
The lights, which are not LED, are also not on a timer.
Tomas said that Cheviot Hills and Westwood have received new lights for their municipal tennis courts.
Then, Darryl Ford, who is Rec and Park’s Superintendent of Planning, Maintenance and Construction, submitted the following report to PAB:
- Demolition and removal of existing lights and arms (66 lights and 36 arms). Existing poles would remain and would be reused.
- Installation of 48 new LEDs and 36 new inline arms. Lighting would be designed to ensure illumination meets the target task of 50 footcandles for the tennis.
Ford said the current estimate for the project is $200K and there is no funding currently identified or secured for this project.
The amount of money saved in electricity costs from installing LED lights was not included in that report.
At the 2023 July meeting, PAB Board Secretary Maryam Zar said she saw Darryl Ford at the Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners meeting that morning and he said there was no funding source for the lights.
RESTROOMS AND DOG PARK:
Amster reported that there were more than a million in Quimby Funds available to upgrade the bathrooms to make them ADA accessible. He said there was Measure A money available for the dog park. But it still had to be decided “which pot for what” and that the councilmember won’t make a final decision without feedback.
PAB vice-chair Rick McGeagh reminded Amster that bathrooms were a priority. In a 2018 story, the board voted to make bathrooms a top priority.
In that story, CTN reported “When Michael Shull, general manager for L.A. Recreation and Parks, toured the Rec Center on September 5, he was told the top two projects for this park were replacing the playground and fixing the bathrooms. Neither are handicap accessible. (See Circling the News September 12 “City Rec & Parks Address Playground/Bathrooms.)”
Then the park director Erich Haas said that bathrooms were the first priority and that there wasn’t enough money to replace the playground.
In a 2020 story (“Palisades Recreation Center Office Undergoes a $72,000 Renovation –at Long last”) this editor reported, “The money comes from Quimby funding. According to the Department of Recreation and Parks Commission Board Secretary Harold Arrivillaga, ‘There is $4,548,933 currently available in unallocated Quimby/Park Fees that are eligible to be allocated to Palisades Rec Center.’
“‘These Quimby/Park Fees were collected from developments within five (5) miles of Palisades Recreation Center, which is the standard distance for the allocation of Quimby Fees for community recreational facilities pursuant to Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 12.33 E.3,’ Arrivillaga wrote to Circling the News. (Quimby fees may go as far as 10 miles away to a park, called a regional park, if the RAP board approves and if there is no need at local parks. That means that the $4.5 million could be allocated to other parks within the CD 11 area.)”
CTN sent that information to Traci Parks office on July 24 to see if those funds were still available for the Palisades.
Members of the Palisades Park Advisory Board are appointed by the Park Director and serve for two year terms. This board include Andy Starrels (chair), Rick McGeagh (vice-chair), Maryam Zar (secretary), Janet Andersson, Bob Benton, David Card, Kamis Kamdar, C.J. Laffer, Jay McCann, Mike Skinner, Rob Weber and Kimya Natan (teen council).
(Editor’s note: in the first story in this two-part series, one of CTN’s readers wrote “Who’s telling the truth?” There was a discrepancy between the number of events at the park listed between a homeowner and the park director. A homeowner supplied 13 photos and the dates that parties occurred in June to PAB President Andy Starrels and to CTN.
CTN’s reader said “You quote Dowlatshahi that there was only one event in June.’ Did anyone challenge the director?” No, no one on the PAB board challenged the director.)