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Compromise Makes a Park Grow


Beverly Hills' $10.5-million renovation of La Cienega Park, at one point the subject of a tug of war between the competing interests of nearby residents and youth sports programs, is proceeding toward completion next fall, city officials say.

For years, the city has been under pressure from baseball and soccer leagues and other sports enthusiasts to expand facilities at the 17-acre park, which lies on both sides of La Cienega Boulevard at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard.

At the same time, neighbors of the park, which borders on Los Angeles, have been seeking assurances from the city that activities at the park would be limited so that problems with noise, parking and night lights would be minimized.

Since 1986, city officials have met more than a dozen times with park users and neighbors to work out compromises, said Steve Miller, who supervised the project for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. "We tried to be sensitive to the concerns of the residents because we wanted a park that would meet the present and future needs of the community."

The redesigned park will have a tennis complex with 16 courts, a pro shop and lockers, all atop a 300-space parking garage. There will be a putting green, a children's playground, a jogging track and, depending on the season, space for three soccer fields or three baseball diamonds. A pedestrian bridge across La Cienega Boulevard will connect the two sides of the park.

The city will build an eight-foot wall along the park's eastern edge to separate it from nearby homes in Los Angeles and will install special directional lights designed to illuminate the playing fields at night without dazzling residents at the park's perimeter.

"The park will give a new vitality to the southeast sector of our community," said Vice Mayor Allan Alexander, who has been working on the development with fellow council member Vicki Reynolds.

On the western side of the park, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is spending $4.5 million to restore the city's 60-year-old water treatment plant and convert it into an archive for films and prints.

For the most part, residents who were involved with the negotiations have expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

"Overall, it was a successful compromise," said John Baldoni, a member of the Carthay Circle Homeowners Assn. in Los Angeles. "On the whole, they satisfied the concerns of the residents in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles."

"It was a process of give and take and many compromises, but ultimately the city made the decision," said Julie Khan, a 13-year resident of Beverly Hills. "It was unique for the city to ask residents to participate in the design of a park."

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