Rec Center Project Faces Numerous Hearings
After Temescal Canyon rim residents successfully argued that the trash bins from the maintenance yard at the Palisades Recreation Center should not be moved to Temescal Park at the April 17 Park Advisory Board meeting, everyone left the gym.
PAB member Bob Harter then reported that the proposed Veterans’ Garden/Bocce Courts had been presented to the City staff of L.A. Rec and Parks, and those comments from the City had been incorporated and informal approval had been received from the City.
The project would still need to follow CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) requirements and go through the Coastal Commission, before going before the Rec and Parks Board of Commissioners.
If approved, the plan would go before the L.A. City Council for final approval, because part of the American Legion’s requirements with its donation of $400,000 is that the name Veterans’ Park could not be changed for 30 years.
Harter, who is co-chair of the project committee, said that the project would be breaking ground in the next three months and that everything should be completed by October.
Circling the New asked for clarification, specifically if construction bids had gone out and if it would be privately bid or through a public (City) process and also the deadline for the bids.
For answers, Harter told CTN to contact Bill McGreagor, the owner and President of The McGregor Company who has donated his time to the project. Subsequently CTN was told that committee co-chair Jimmy Dunne would be handling all press requests. So CTN sent the following questions to Dunne on April 22:
- When will the project go before the City’s Rec and Park Commission or has it already?
- Have bids for the project gone out? When will bids close?
- When would the project go before the L.A. City Council?
- What is the intended start date of the project?
Subsequently, CTN attended the first Fourth of July 5/10K Will Rogers Race Foundation meeting on April 24 and race organizers were concerned about the Gardens’/ bocce construction start date because it could impact the end of race activities.
CTN sent a subsequent email to Dunne and he responded in an April 24 email. “I’ve made Brian Shea aware that construction will start after the 4th of July celebrations at the park. We’re firming up dates and other specifics on Veterans’ Gardens; it’s going very well with lots of progress going on.”
Still no definite answers or whether the cost of construction/landscaping had gone up, if there had been bids or if approvals were still needed.
The project, which has been in planning stages since it was bought before the PAB in 2014, was first reported in the Post 283 Legion Newsletter: “At the Palisades Park Advisory Board meeting in October, members voted to spend $2,500 to fund a survey for a proposed Bocce Center at the Recreation Center.
‘The courts would be located in the area adjacent to the maintenance yard, now occupied by the concrete slab and picnic tables in the upper picnic area, nearest the tennis courts.
‘The money for the survey will come from the Toppel Matching Grant fund, established in 2012 in honor of Kurt Toppel’s 80th birthday.”
Eventually, funding came through American Legion Post 283 after the organizers added the Veterans’ Gardens to the project.
In 2016, the cost estimate for the bocce courts and a landscaped picnic area was $600,000.
The Legion Newsletter ran a June 2017 story titled “Legion Pledges $400K to Park,” and noted: “The members of Post 283 approves a $400,000 Matching Grant, with $20,000 to be made immediately available for final construction plans and the $380,000 balance to be subject to the following conditions:  that the community donate an additional $200,000 for the Veterans’ Gardens;  that the name and final design for recognition of Post 283 and our nations’ veterans be approved by the Executive Committee of Post 283 and its membership; and  that Your Palisades Park Improvement Corporation obtain assurances that the name of the Veterans’ Gardens will remain unchanged for a thirty-year minimum period.”
At an October 2018 PAB meeting in which Bill McGregor spoke, he was asked if they had a final cost estimate for the project. He said it would be between $600,000 to $700,00 and that they had raised $800,000, with hopes to raise enough money for three years of maintenance, which was projected at $30,000 a year.
One audience member said, “It seems shortsighted to approve this without electrical plans. It worries me that there is not a maintenance budget and there are no plans about hours. There should be rules about operation and maintenance.”
McGregor said, “I have no problem bringing back a lighting plan. The hours haven’t been sorted out yet.”
PAB approved the plans, which were slated to go to the Department of Rec and Parks, then to a task force and finally to the Park Commissioners.
“Does it ever go before the community again?” one audience member wanted to know.
“No,” Harter said.