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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Thursday, February 25, 2010

LaBonge unveils latest plans for Griffith Park

By popular request, here's a summary of the projects planned by CD 4 for Griffith Park that were discussed by LaBonge on Wednesday afternoon at the Los Feliz library. Crowd size was approximately thirty stalwart locals. For the most part, the audience simply listened as Himself unveiled his latest financial follies we like to call LaBongenomics.

From notes scribbled on the back of a piece of kleenex - unused.

Current Projects

Save the Pood:

In the drive to purchase the RKO property on Cahuenga Peak, LaBonge says he, the Trust for Public Land, and the Department of Recreation and Parks have approximately $8 million in hand and need another $4.5 million. The councilman thinks he'll make the deadline in April, but he couldn't remember why there was a deadline. (The TPL's option to purchase the property for the fixed price expires in mid-April.)

Seems like an awful lot of groups and some individuals in Los Angeles could just write a check for the rest of the money without flinching. People with normal incomes like you and I can donate here. Every little bit helps.

Red-Headed Stepchild no more:

Captain's Roost is going to get some help. Finally. Years after it should have already happened. Prop 84 will restore native plan population and remove non-natives, and the California Conservation Corps has bodies to do some work. A volunteer carpenter named "Julianne" reportedly spends time up at the Roost now, doing something carpentrylike.

LaBonge trotted out a three year old map showing plans for restoration of the original Griffith Park Iconic Garden (circa 1945), done a few months after the fire in May 2007 as part of the Griffith Park Recovery Plan.

Sorry, Tom-fans: Dantes' View is second Iconic Garden built in Griffith Park, not the first. For completeness, Amir's Garden is the third and last.

The councilman also said something about not restoring a recent, popular but unauthorized addition to the Roost by Sierra Club'er Felix Martinez and his brother. Back in 2007, LaBonge insisted on including the Martinez Brothers' addition in the restoration plan.

Invoking our crystal ball now, we smell some sort of financial offering from NBC Universal likely for both Captain's Roost and possibly Cahuenga Peak in exchange for CD 4's support on their mega-expansion, The NBC Universal Vision Plan. Guessing this is the real reason behind CD 4's vocal opposition -Universal isn't playing ball yet. Or should that be "paying" ball?

Jogging Path for Seniors:

LaBonge has some money, so he's gonna build that jogging path for the seniors even if they have to cross one of the busiest intersections in all of Los Angeles to get there. Even if there's more room on the other side of the street - where the senior citizen's center is actually located - for a bigger, better path. He's throwing in some native plants to appease greenies, too.

Whipping that crystal ball out again, we're thinking Avon's Walk for Breast Cancer is probably the real target user group. The Mulholland Fountain makes for mighty nice high profile photo ops.

Future Projects

Travel Town Western Pavilion expansion:

Being built so non-members can use the bathroom at Travel Town too. No real information given out except controversial architect Brenda Levin's name was dropped. Wondering if the Pavilion is going to look like her other more high-profile boondoggle, the Autry expansion.

Historic Griffith Park Pool:

A renovation, we assume.

Toyon Canyon:

We've warned about this before. Tom wants active use recreation on this land, and he's gonna find a way to do it. He wouldn't say anything specific about his plans, probably because he's up for re-election in a year, but he did say he was willing to investigate restoring a natural stream that was buried when the City decided to create a landfill in the middle of Griffith Park in the 1950s. This, of course, was a crowd-pleaser he's hoping to parlay into a vote-getter.

As far as Toyon is concerned, there is already a final approved closure plan for the landfill in place that includes restoring the canyon-now-mountain of garbage into natural habitat. Labonge had previously put plans for a funicular from Mineral Wells to the top of Toyon where new ball fields were to be built in the much-hated Melendrez version of the Griffith Park Master plan. Those have since been exorcised, but the ball field spectre will likely rise again if the councilman succeeds in winning a third term.

After all, he freely admits he's quite the athletic supporter.

Move over barbecues:

Park Center (Crystal Springs) is getting new Little League ball fields whether they fit there or not. This is punishment for fighting the ball fields and funicular on Toyon, by the way. Himself said as much at the December meeting. Price tag is  $3.5 million in Prop K funding, time frame - 2012.

Commonwealth nursery:

Kicking out the MacArthur Park work crew and installing youth groups. He's doing it for the children.

Cost? Impact?

Sunnynook River Park:

Sounds like one of the many "ribbon parks" planned for river bike paths with Prop O money, but quite honestly LaBonge said nothing concrete about this except to say it is happening.


Best quote from LaBonge: "I'm an athletic suporter."

Second best quote from LaBonge: "A lot of what I do is what I dreamed about but didn't get as a kid."

Obligatory LaBonge comparison of Griffith Park to Central Park came when the councilman suggested that a "Central Park Foundation" take over Griffith Park just like Central Park.

Promise made by LaBonge: the councilman agreed to set up a meeting with the much maligned Griffith Park Master Plan working group, his office, and the Department of Recreation and Parks to discuss the next step in the master plan process.