The new park director Jasmine Dowlatshahi was introduced to the Park Advisory Board at its quarterly meeting on April 20, held on Zoom. There were about 23 participants in attendance, including members of the Park Board. Chair Mike Skinner was absent, but PAB Member Bob Benton ran the meeting.
Dowlatshahi has been a park director for 22 years and prior to that worked with Rec and Parks for 10 years. She brings a wealth of experience, having worked at 10 different parks during her career. She announced that many new classes will be up and running starting May 1.
The classes include everything from ballet storybook (Tuesdays from 1:30 to 2:30 for six- to eight-year-olds) to top chefs (Tuesdays from 4 to 5 p.m. six- to 12-year-olds) to badminton (big gym on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.) to pickleball club (inside the big gym on Mondays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). For class options and cost, visit: click here.
Darryl Ford, Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) Superintendent, said he was looking at facility upgrades, which included the playground, which is not handicapped accessible and hasn’t been updated since 1986.
Residents had asked if the City could look at the lighting at the tennis courts, which also have never been updated. New focused lighting on a timer could stop some of the light pollution that shines into neighboring homes.
“Staff has been out to look at them and we’ll work on a scope of work and a cost to upgrade them,” Ford said.
PAB member Maryam Zar said, “Thank you for sending out someone to look at the lights.” She asked it if would be helpful if suggestions were made to the City about lighting.
“We have staff,” Ford said, “but if you have suggestions send them over.”
PAB member Rick McGeagh said that rec center bathroom remodels were desperately needed, especially since “the bathrooms are not ADA compliant.”
Ford said he was unaware of the bathrooms.
“They’ve been on our list for more than 20 years,” McGeagh said.
“I’ll follow up on that,” Ford said.
Rec and Park employees were asked about the parking lot. “Is there an estimate about when the fence will come down?” Zar asked. Currently, a portion of the parking lot is fenced off, and patrons walk on a hill by the fence, which PAB members say is dangerous.
“That would be a Bureau of Engineering project,” Ford said.
RAP Assistant General Manager Jimmy Kim said that the department is looking at funding to convert one of the tennis courts to a pickleball court. “If the court is entirely redone, it would be $18,000,” Kim said. “If we just paint it, that would be $5,000.”
PAB Member Lynn Hyland said that there are about $75,000 in Quimby funds that could be used.
Rick McGeagh said, “We need ADA compliant restrooms as soon as possible.”
“Absolutely,” Kim said and noted that any Quimby funds, would have to come out of the Councilman Mike Bonin’s office.
PAB members wanted to know what the plan was for Potrero Park, would there be rangers?
“We’re hiring,” Kim said, “we don’t have a full force of rangers right now.” It seems that the duty for Potrero might also fall to the Pacific Palisades Senior Lead Officer and to LAPD.
There is money in the Community Center Committee fund totaling about $20,000 and Benton said, “We could spend that on something this board approves.”
There is about $2,027 in the Kurt Toppel Fund; $518 in the Teen Council fund; $261 in the LAPD Substation fund; $2,677 in the small gym (basketball) fund; $7,355 in the Rec Center Account; and $7,387 in the Think rink.
The Kurt Topper funds were restricted to something to be used for Volleyball.
Park Director Dowlatshahi said a second scoreboard is needed in the big gym, and also, she would like volleyball equipment: poles, nets and balls.
A special meeting may need to be called, so that the scoreboard and volleyball, and pickleball court could be agenized and the board able to vote on the use of the money.
Friends Street resident Jeffrey Spitz said during public comment that he was worried about the impact of the park, without an exit or an entrance at the Pacific Coast Highway end. He said that current plans were not approved by the Coastal Commission.
“We’ll get back to you,” Kim said.
There was a discussion about possibly holding PAB meetings more often than quarterly.