Park Assessment Meetings Not Waste of Time, Says County

By Jacqueline Garcia, EGP Staff Writer

Dozens of public Park Needs Assessment workshops are being held across Los Angeles County’s 88 cities and unincorporated areas to identify parks assets and their needs, but some of those who have already attended meetings wonder if it’s been worth their time since county officials admit there is no funding currently available to turn input into action.

At a Jan. 7 workshop at the Alpine Recreation Center in Chinatown, the city of Los Angeles’ parks and recreation department’s principal supervisor, Frank Herrera, said the meetings are being held to gather input, but explained there’s “not a commitment” from the county to implement any of the recommendations because there is no funding available.

Lea este artículo en Español: Reuniones para Hablar de Parques No es Perdida de Tiempo, Dice el Condado

“It is an opportunity to let the County know which park projects are more important to the community,” Herrera said.

Once all the assessment information has been collected, sometime in May or June, the county will share the information with the cities to use, if they wish, when considering funding allocations for repairs, Herrera said.

The Park Needs Assessment will help to determine how to improve, expand, and make parks more accessible, states the project information.

Julie de la Torre attended the meeting at the Alpine Recreation Center because she wants repairs made to Yale Park in Chinatown where she takes her two daughters. She told EGP she felt deceived when she realized the workshop was to collect votes on the needs, but not to start working on repairs right away.

“We come here with the hope of seeing changes and we leave with nothing,” she said. “Why do they make us vote if there’s no outcome on their side,” she complained, referring to the 10 stickers participants were given to use to vote for repairs or changes they’d like to see at their local parks, such as cleaner restrooms, multipurpose fields, fitness zones, tennis courts, a dog park, etc.

Julie de la Torre reviews the votes with her mom during the Jan. 7 meeting in Chinatown. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Julie de la Torre reviews the votes with her mom during the Jan. 7 meeting in Chinatown. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

“The people in the community are really tired of how the county and city have responded to our needs,” Craig Wong told EGP after the workshop. “What kind of commitment are they willing to assess, in the matter of ‘people want certain things versus people need certain things.’”

Wayland Tam agreed with Wong’s statement saying that for the past 50 years his Chinatown community has been “crying for a pool” but are still waiting.

“A lot of low-income people don’t have the accessibility to drive 5 miles to go into a pool to Central or L.A. Arts high schools,” he said. “But no one lets us in, and we are taxpayers.”

According to the County, the workshops–which began in March 2015 and will end in February –have been programmed to  “engage all communities within the County in a collaborative process to gather data and input for future decision-making on parks and recreation centers.”

LA County estimates that every year about 70 million people visit the County parks and participate in park-sponsored programs.

Rita Robinson, a project director with the County Dept. of Parks and Recreation, told EGP that people attending the workshops “are not wasting their time by any means.”

She explained that the previous Board of Supervisors in 2014 backed passage of Proposition P, a last minute ballot measure to replace funding from Proposition A–the Safe Neighborhood Parks Act–which was expiring in 2015. Prop A funds provided for the “acquisition, restoration and rehabilitation “ of County parks as well as recreation and natural lands.

Prop P failed at the ballot box, losing by a 4% margin.

Supervisors were told they had failed to “engage with the community” and that not including specific projects in the proposition was a mistake, noted Robinson.

Therefore, when Supervisor Hilda Solis joined the board, she asked that the county conduct an assessment to see “What do we have and what do we need” in the parks, said Robinson.

Supervisors have invested $3.5 million to cover the costs of consultants, data gathering, outreach meetings, city stipends and other necessary resources to ensure “the most transparent process” for assessing park needs, Robinson added.

The 189 study areas include City and County community parks, neighborhood parks, pocket parks and tot lots, recreational facilities including swimming pools, recreation centers, gyms, and skate parks, regional parks and school recreation facilities with joint use agreements.

Also, trail corridors along flood control channels and separately owned public trail rights-of-way outside of parks fall into the assessment profile.

Cemeteries, golf courses, beaches, plazas and public art installations, however, will not be assessed, according to the project’s website.

There’s no timeline in place for securing revenue to implement any of the projects recommendations or findings, however, supervisors are considering a future ballot measure to replace funds lost when Prop A expired.

This time, they’ll do it with a plan and a project in hand, said Robinson.

“The people’s input helps for crafting the future,” she emphasized.

The final report will determine which areas are in most need, prioritizing and outlining costs for potential park projects within each study area, states the project website.

A workshop will be held at 7 p.m. today at Lincoln Park, with more east and southeast meeting scheduled throughout January.

De la Torre said she hopes city and county officials are not just out creating more false hope.

“We have been waiting for changes for years,” she said. “Show us what we are voting for and if it is worth it.”

To find more information about the Park Needs Assessment visit, http://lacountyparkneeds.org.

 

Upcoming County Public Park Assessment Meetings

Jan. 14     7 pm     Lincoln Park 3501 Valley Blvd. L.A. 90031
Jan. 14     6 pm     South Gate City Hall 8650 California Ave. South Gate 90280
Jan. 19     7 pm     Bell Community Center 6250 Pine Ave, Bell,  90201
Jan. 20    6 pm     Pico Rivera Senior Center 9200 Mines Blvd, Pico Rivera, 90660
Jan. 20    6 pm     Commerce Senior Center 2555 Commerce Way, Commerce, 90040
Jan. 23   10am     Huntington Park Community Center 6925 Salt Lake Ave, Huntington Park, 90255
Jan. 23   10am     Monterey Park Service Clubhouse  400 S. McPherrin Ave, Monterey Park, 91754
Jan. 28    5 pm    Bell Gardens Veterans Park 6662 Loveland St., Bell Gardens, 90201
Jan. 28    6:30pm  Montebello Senior Citizen Center  115 S Taylor Ave, Montebello, 90640
Jan. 28    6 pm   Saybrook Park 6250 Northside Dr, East Los Angeles, 90022
Feb.   3    6 pm   City Terrace Park 1126 N Hazard Ave, Los Angeles, 90063
TBD    TBD        Alhambra
TBD    TBD       Vernon City Hall 4305 S. Santa Fe Ave., Vernon, CA 90058

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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January 14, 2016  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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