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WEST HOLLYWOOD : Park Plan Sacrifices Library, Critics Say

August 11, 1994|SCOTT COLLINS

West Hollywood Park has a basketball court, a swimming pool and a softball field, among other amenities.

But given the debate over the proposed $5-million renovation of the five-acre park, a boxing ring might be suitable too.

West Hollywood officials say the 30-year-old San Vicente Boulevard park just north of Melrose Avenue is decrepit and poorly designed. At a public hearing earlier this week, a consulting firm hired by the city recommended enlarging the ball field, upgrading the pool area and moving the West Hollywood library to an undetermined site.

The City Council will consider the proposal.

But some city officials and residents have already begun to raise concerns that the plan would be costly, would cut down on open space and would leave the library in limbo because it does not specify where it would go.

"I'm opposed to this (project) the way it's set up right now," Councilman Steve Martin said in an interview. "We could make tremendous improvements to the existing facilities at a fraction of the cost cited in the plan."

Mayor Abbe Land said in an interview, "I'd like to see some changes--to see if there's a way to redesign some areas to have more open, green space."

The proposed renovation "is obviously a vast improvement over what exists now," resident Martin Strudler said at the hearing. "There's just two things missing: a library and a park."

Resident Roslyn Krause said that the city has neglected the park for many years and has drafted an unworkable plan. "Now (the city) wants to take it and turn it into a sports center," she said. "We want a park, with green space and picnic grounds. We don't want a sports center."

Martin and others questioned whether the city could afford the proposed renovation. The consultants' report suggested myriad funding sources, including taxes, grants and bonds.

"This city spends money like they've got it, but they don't," resident Jeff Prang said. "They're dreaming of a Mercedes project on a Chevy income."

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