"When people pack lunch boxes to go to Palisades Park with their kids, they take sandwiches and Band-Aids," said Steven L. Soboroff.
Soboroff is so displeased with the run-down condition of play equipment at the 46-acre park in Pacific Palisades that he has single-handedly undertaken the task of raising $45,000 to refurbish the play area.
Soboroff, a Palisades resident whose children are 2 1/2 years and 7 months old, started his formal fund-raising about a month ago. He already has raised $23,000 in amounts ranging from $5 to $15,000. "I'm also working on a $10,000 anonymous pledge," he said.
The Palisades Recreation Center Park, at 851 Alma Real Drive, "is a gorgeous park in a terrific area of Los Angeles," Soboroff said, "(but) the play area there is really under-utilized. The equipment is dangerous."
Delores Averill, district supervisor for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, said the city does not have the money to buy new playground equipment. She applauded Soboroff's efforts, calling him "one of the few genuine philanthropists."
"He pays for his own postage and his own planning costs," Averill said, "He is a one-man committee. These people don't come along very often who will do the whole thing."
Soboroff, whose Santa Monica business, Soboroff/Moskowitz Co., scouts locations for department stores, said that the project has taken a lot of time but that if he succeeds, it will be worthwhile.
His plans are modeled after a new play area installed about 18 months ago at Holmby Park, 601 Club View Drive, West Los Angeles. A flyer he is circulating bears a photograph of children happily playing on new equipment at Holmby Park. It reads, "A Children's Playground Like This Can Be a Reality in Pacific Palisades . . . ONLY With Your Help."
The flyer also has copies of letters from Averill, Los Angeles Councilman Marvin Braude and Mayor Tom Bradley, all endorsing Soboroff's efforts. The fund-raising has been approved by the Los Angeles Social Service Department.
Investment in Children
"I handle investments representing department stores," Soboroff said. "This is an investment with a different kind of return. Sometimes you smile when you make money. Sometimes you smile when you see kids playing at a park."
The new equipment, ordered through Hanson & Associates, the same company that modernized Holmby Park, is scheduled for delivery in February.
"But I don't want people to think that means the play area will be ready then. It all depends on whether we get the money," Soboroff said.
Inquiries may be made or donations sent to the city of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks, Palisades Children's Fund, c/o 1123 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 90403. The telephone number is (213) 451-9877.