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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Ballfields, Bandshell projects impacting Griffith Park to be voted on Wednesday

Update: these items are continued to the April 2nd Commission meeting. Keep sending in your public comment on these items. Link is below. 

On Wednesday March 5th April 2nd, the newly appointed Recreation and Parks Commission will be voting on two boutique projects from Councilmember Tom LaBonge to potentially be constructed in Griffith Park:
1. More ballfields at Crystal Springs picnic area, and

2. New Performing Arts Center (aka the Bandshell) in the Old Zoo picnic area.
If you haven't recently weighed in to the Recreation and Parks Commission on your opinion about these projects, you can do so by emailing the commission with your public comment here.

New Performing Arts Center:

This project is the baby of close LaBonge supporter and Symphony in the Glen director, Barbara Ferris. Ms. Ferris ran for the board of the Neighborhood Council Formerly Called Greater Griffith Park primarily to see this through, among other things.

The Old Zoo area is an active wildlife corridor. Per the Cultural Heritage designation for Griffith Park, this project is located within the Urban Wilderness boundary, where, ostensibly, construction is to be done only if absolutely necessary. Is this project necessary?

New Baseball fields:

Since we last discussed this project,  a number of things have become clear in recent weeks:
Pote Field on a normal day.
  • The Atwater alternative was never a serious alternative location.
  • The current predominant stakeholder group at Crystal Springs - the group who will be displaced by this project - is predominantly Latino families who are essentially picnicking, holding birthday parties, and other passive uses. Recently, the propaganda machine around this project has been at work claiming that this is not true.

    The propaganda machine is absolutely incorrect: ask anyone without a dog in the fight who actually visits Crystal Springs regularly on a nice day. I've been at Crystal Springs a couple hundred times over the past ten years for various reasons, and the consistent user group is definitely predominantly Latino families picnicking.  Most weekends, because it is so popular, Crystal Springs is completely impacted - finding any parking for anything in the area is insanely difficult.This project displaces a majority of these users, plain and simple.
  • A couple of weeks ago, LaBonge aide Carolyn Ramsay popped in to a Rec and Parks Commission subcommittee to discuss her boss's project, opening with (paraphrase): 'The Councilman has wanted this his whole life'.  And that right there constitutes the entire needs assessment on this project.
  • Finally, would the councilmember still want the project if it were at Ferraro Fields rather than Crystal Springs? Ferraro is also used by a predominantly Latino user group, but there is plenty of room to add ball fields without displacing anyone.

So why weren't the Ferraro Fields part of the EIR as an alternative site for this project? Why is Ferraro Fields verboten?

Two possible reasons flow out of all of the information and disinformation surrounding this project. One is that the area is already named for the late, great John Ferraro, so the "Tom LaBonge Ballfields at Ferraro Fields" ain't gonna cut it.

The other is much more unfortunate: Who is being displaced at Crystal Springs? Who is the dominant stakeholder group at Ferraro Fields - a stakeholder group that would not be displaced but would remain if the project was moved there?  The potential implication is ugly, but cannot be ignored.

The new Recreation and Parks Commission will likely pass both these boutique projects through for the outgoing Councilmember LaBonge and his close supporter, but the public record - and the questions - will remain.