Veterans Gardens/Bocce Courts Groundbreaking Held December 7

The picnic tables were removed and the cement base taken out to prep the area for the bocce courts.

At long last, a groundbreaking was held December 7 for the three bocce courts and five Veterans Gardens that will replace the former picnic-table area on the upper lawn at the Palisades Recreation Center.

Organizers estimate a three-month construction/completion period.

The project, which began initially with plans to build only a bocce center, came to the Park Advisory Board (PAB) in October 2014. PAB voted to use $2,500 from the Toppel Matching Grant for a survey.

The project was then taken to American Legion Post 283, which voted against funding the project. Undeterred, the organizers revisited Post 283’s executive committee in March 2017, this time with a proposed new garden area that would honor veterans.

Board members asked for revisions, including a new design concept to feature a prominent flagpole situated at the entrance to the Gardens that would commemorate Post 283 veterans, and five additional service monuments celebrating the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

Once the revisions were made, Post 283 pledged $400,000 towards the project, with a requirement that the name Veterans Gardens would not change for 30 years and that the community raise $200,000 towards the project.

At that time, the project’s targeted completion date was April 2018. The project needed approval by the L.A. Recreation and Parks Commission and the L.A. City Council before it could begin. The City Council approval was required because one of the conditions for Legion money was that a specific area of the Recreation Center be called Veterans Gardens for 30 years.

In 2018, Bob Harter and Jimmy Dunne, who have been spearheading the project from the beginning, received the Community Council’s Citizen of the Year award for their efforts.

At one point, project organizers hoped that the trash collection area located adjacent to the proposed bocce courts could be moved. Initially, the area by tennis courts 5 and 6 was suggested but firmly rejected by a packed audience at the small gym. Next, lower Temescal Canyon was suggested as a possible site. Neighbors around the canyon jammed a PAB board meeting and the board rejected moving the Palisades Park trash area.

Finally, this August, the Rec and Park Commissioners approved the project and a month later, September 11, the City Council voted its approval. According to the mapped documents, the trash area is in the bocce area. On December 9, Circling the News received photos of trees with orange X’s on them and asked if they were being removed. The shrub/trees and the cement picnic tables were removed that same day.

Park Director Erich Haas said that he was told that the “trees” were overgrown shrubs that had not been trimmed (below).

Bob Harter was also contacted and said, “The distressed, leggy shrubs marked for removal are being replaced by podocarpus ice/pine fern, as specified in the plans and specifications approved by RAP.”

CTN looks forward to the new landscaping and wonders why the other distressed shrubs that line the fence were not replaced with pine ferns, too.

Haas said he’s looking forward to the new bocce courts and running the leagues. Money is being sought to build an endowment that covers maintenance costs.

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