Trashing the Village Green
If your neighbor’s party guests filled your black trash can to overflowing days before garbage pickup, understandably you would be upset. With the outbreak of flea-born typhus on rats, and the large number of rats in Pacific Palisades, it would seem prudent not to let garbage sit.
You could approach the neighbor, explain the situation and hope they would do the right thing. The last answer one would expect is, “It’s not our problem.”
But that is what happened to members of the Village Green board when the Green’s trash problem was taken to Caruso.
Many people visiting Caruso’s Palisades Village are also crossing Sunset towards the Village Green and adjoining streets, leaving behind trash as they go.
“I know what our trash was before the [Caruso] opening [September 22],” said Village Green board member Marge Gold, who is appalled by the overloaded trash cans, with garbage falling on the ground. This has been a common occurrence the past few weekends.
She spoke to the Pacific Palisades Community Council at its September 27 meeting, and two members of the PPCC’s Village Project nine-member committee, Sue Kohl and David Kaplan, said they would speak to Caruso.
At the Council’s October 11 meeting, Kaplan reported that they had taken the issue to Caruso executives, but “The Caruso people have declined to pick up trash from the Village Green.”
If Caruso does not want to take responsibility for its overflow trash, that responsibility falls back on the Village Green board, which has had to hire an outside source ($150 a month) to empty the trash on Sundays.
The Green operates on an annual budget of about $14,000, and this money for garbage removal, lights, benches, upkeep on the fountain, tree trimming and insurance must be raised annually from local residents and organizations.
The PPCC, which initiated the formation of the park in 1972 (see history below), has about $32,000 in its bank account, which could help the park (not City-owned) by picking up the trash tab.
John Padden, the new president of Palisades PRIDE, said at the October 11 PPCC meeting, “We want to listen to the community and consider projects.” His organization could be another source of income.
The Village Green is a private park, triangular in shape, that rests between Swarthmore Avenue, Antioch Street and Sunset Boulevard, across from Palisades Village.
The Village Green board sent a letter to the real estate agents in town soliciting help with maintenance, since the park brings charm and “breathing” space to the Village.
Of the hundreds of realtors who received the letter, “Those who have supported us financially are Anthony Marguleas, Michael Edlen, John Wild, Janelle Friedman and Graham Larsen,” said Marge Gold, who noted that donations of any amount are welcome, not only from realtors, but also residents. (Visit: palisadesvillagegreen.org.)
VILLAGE GREEN HISTORY
In 1923, Pacific Palisades founders commissioned the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts (Frederick Olmsted designed Central Park, among others) to design the Village and business center. Today’s Village Green was part of the resulting plan.
However, the property was leased to Standard Oil and converted to a gas station in 1945. The lease ran out in 1972 and the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce contacted the company about purchasing it.
The newly-established Palisades Community Council established a Village Green Committee that included Robert McMillin, president; Margaret Wylie and Wally Miller, vice presidents; Robert Abernethy, NBC News correspondent; and Arvin “Pete” Aherns, treasurer, to buy the land if funds could be raised.
In October 1972, fundraising began and in less than three months more than $70,000, was raised. About $46,000 of this was used to purchase the land and the remainder was used for the architect and design. Certified as a nonprofit, the Palisades Village Green was dedicated on August 17, 1973.
The Village Green is still managed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and new members are sought.
Because it is a private park, run entirely on donations from residents and organizations, Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s Senior Field Deputy Norm Kulla was able to exclude the park from the Business Improvement District. This saved the nonprofit from having to pay the annual BID assessment.
Past Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Arnie Wishnick knew the importance of the little park in the heart of the Village and spearheaded a campaign to raise money for Chrysalis to clean the sidewalks and gutters in the business district, which also meant emptying trash cans on the Village Green.
When the Chamber, under new leadership, announced early this year that it was no longer in the trash-collection business, the BID board had to become responsible for trash pickup. Caruso executive Rick Lemmo, who also sits on the BID board and the Community Council, announced at a September 5 BID meeting that “the Village Green is not in the BID,” meaning that they would not be covered by any BID services such as tree lighting or trash pickup.
Realtor Nicole Howard, the Chamber’s representative on the BID board, announced a similar message at the October BID meeting.