Vernon’s city council got physical last week and broke ground on two major community developments aimed at ensuring the industrial city begins to make good on reforms meant to change the once scandal-ridden city.
On Saturday, the Vernon council formally launched the Vernon CommUNITY Fund during a groundbreaking ceremony for a new soccer field with artificial turf in Huntington Park.
The revamped Vernon CommUNITY Fund will replace the city’s Good Neighbor Program, and will allow non-profit organizations and cities near Vernon to apply online for city grants.
Non-profits and government agencies based in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Huntington Park, Maywood, Vernon and Unincorporated East Los Angeles or who serve the residents of those areas are eligible to apply.
Grants will range from $5,000 to $250,000 for projects over a period of six months to two years. Grants under $5,000, or for events or sponsorships will not be considered. Applications over $250,000 will be considered.
A grant committee will review all applications and make recommendations for funding to the city council, which has final authority.
The new artificial turf soccer field at Salt Lake Park will be paid for with funds from a $624,000 grant from Vernon’s now former Good Neighbor Program.
The day prior to the community fund announcement, the council was joined by Senators Ricardo Lara, De Leon and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard at another groundbreaking ceremony, this time for Vernon Village Park, a 45-unit apartment complex in the city that is expected to double the city’s voting population. During the city’s last election in April, only 68 of the city’s 100 or so residents voted.
Sen. De Leon recognized the city for its progress since being nearly disincorporated in 2011 amid allegations of corruption. At the time, critics said the city’s lack of a true electorate to hold elected officials accountable, made it rife for corruption.
The move to increase the city’s population was acknowledge as a positive move forward, but it was clear the city would remain under scrutiny by public officials.
“We’ll continue to work to ensure they meet all of the reform obligations to enlarge and energize the electorate and become a model city in [South] East Los Angeles,” De Leon said.
The affordable-housing project, located at 52nd Drive is expected to be move-in ready by 2015 and will boast one, two and three bedroom units and various community amenities.
“This is a momentous event in the life of our 109 year-old city,” Vernon Mayor Michael McCormick said. “A decade ago you would never have thought of Vernon as a ‘live-work’ community, but times change [and] Vernon is changing with them.”