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Park Programs in Los Angeles

August 20, 1994

Congratulations to Carlyle Hall Jr., president of People for Parks, and Prof. Jack Foley for their insightful column "Recreation Is More Than Fun and Games" (Commentary, Aug. 5).

The 2,000 full-time and 20,000 part-time employees of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks share the view that the work of the department not only helps "provide a satisfying life in Southern California," but is a deterrent to crime.

Drawing a direct relationship between "quantity and quality of our parks and recreation" and crime has been done time and time again. Recently, in Phoenix, a citywide late night/early morning basketball/swim program cut juvenile crime by 55% immediately! Over 165,000 participated during the first summer, at a total cost of 65 cents per participant! In Los Angeles we are looking into a major expansion of our midnight basketball and other programs.

Mayor Richard Riordan's issue of "safety in Los Angeles" is clearly a top priority for all of us. Jackie Tatum's Department of Recreation and Parks will make major contributions to reduce crime through increased use of programs and facilities in our 375 parks. The department was allocated $126 million in Proposition A funds to improve 110 specific facilities citywide. I will be touring all 375 facilities (many times with the appropriate City Council member), 12-13 each session, on Monday mornings. We hope to see, firsthand, what additional "wish list" items are important for each facility in our neighborhoods. We would encourage all Angelenos to give suggestions to their local park director. Our goal is to compile a meaningful grass-roots list.

The department hopes to encourage (and acknowledge) private sector donations to complete many of these "wish list" items (examples range from benches, to expanded types of seniors' programs, to improved lighting and new sports facilities).

STEVEN SOBOROFF, President

Board of Recreation and Parks

Commissioners, Los Angeles

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