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VENICE : Final Public Hearing on Beach Restoration Plan

March 24, 1994|KEN ELLINGWOOD

Los Angeles recreation planners are refining plans for a $10-million restoration of Venice Beach and will have a public meeting next month to gauge community opinion on the project.

The meeting, scheduled for April 5, will be the last public session to gather suggestions on what to include in the renovation before planners' recommendations go before the city's Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners on April 20.

The April 5 meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Penmar Recreation Center, 1341 Lake Ave.

So far, project supervisors in the Recreation and Parks Department are endorsing many of the features contained in a refurbishment plan proposed last fall by the Venice Boardwalk Assn. and Venice Action Committee. That proposal calls for resurfacing the asphalt boardwalk with brick, rebuilding wooden-roofed pagodas, and installing antique lighting to create a turn-of-the-century ambience.

The groups' proposal, which also suggests creating small performance areas for street entertainers, has met resistance from some on the boardwalk who say it doesn't match the spirit of the original Venice and will detract from the tourist strip's rough-edged charm.

Parks officials have suggested further study on one of the more controversial parts of the refurbishment plan: whether to repave the boardwalk with bricks. That idea has drawn fire from critics who say brick would drive away roller-skaters, who have helped make the boardwalk an international icon.

"That's going to be the primary battle," project manager Kathleen Chan said.

Officials recommend redesigning the beach bicycle path to remove sharp curves, but are leaving open the question of building a second path to relieve overcrowding.

The recreation planners suggest hiring Venice architects--the same ones who prepared the boardwalk association's refurbishment proposal--to produce a detailed renovation plan and oversee a one-day community workshop to discuss the design. The features will include new bathrooms, a new entrance at Washington Boulevard and possibly moving bleachers that, many complain, clog pedestrian traffic near Muscle Beach.

Recreation officials will also seek suggestions for new public uses of a former oil-drilling site next to the beach. They recommend that cleanup of the facility--estimated at up to $2.5 million--be paid with funds other than the $10 million Venice Beach bond approved by Los Angeles County voters two years ago.

The staff has declined to make recommendations on the fate of the idle Venice Pavilion until officials seek proposals from groups interested in resurrecting the 33-year-old former theater. The Planning Department is already moving forward on a $3-million renovation of the Venice Pier.

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