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Plummer Park Plan, 2.0

By Aaron Blevins, 12/29/2011

Grassroots Group Prompts WeHo to Reexamine Renovations


It appears the grassroots effort to curb the proposed Plummer Park project has succeeded. Changes are coming to Plummer Park, but they’ll be sifted through a new-look subcommittee first.

Demonstrators gathered in Plummer Park in November, and the city has now agreed to examine changes. (photo by Aaron Blevins)

The project subcommittee, initially comprised of Mayor John Duran and Councilmember Abbe Land, has been altered and will reconvene in the coming weeks at a meeting with the project’s design team. At Duran’s recommendation, he will be replaced on the subcommittee by Councilmember John D’Amico, who has a background in architecture and urban planning.

The project had been nearing its construction phase, with a groundbreaking expected in January or February. Now, the city is hoping the subcommittee will be able to offer new recommendations by late February.

“Hopefully, it will be a better project for it,” city senior management analyst Lisa Belsanti said. “It’s not without a lot of angst.”

Belsanti said the design team, consisting of architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa and landscape architects OLIN, will meet with the subcommittee to find realistic alternatives to the current plan, which features underground parking, the razing of Great Hall/Long Hall and the renovation of Fiesta Hall, among other things.

“They’re going to look at everything,” she said. “It’s not to say the current plan won’t be in the mix.”

The subcommittee will also take into account the costs associated with any adjustments, Belsanti added. The current plan would cost approximately $41 million, as part of the city’s $125 million, 25th Anniversary Capital Project. The entire project is being funded through reserves in the general and parking funds, bonds and private money.

Belsanti said the city does not know when construction will commence, but she encouraged residents to call city hall if they have questions.

“It’s especially hard for seniors and people with children who have incorporated that park into their daily lives,” she said. “We just want folks to feel comfortable reaching out.”

Cathy Blaivis, a member of Protect Plummer Park, said the group is pleased that the city is rethinking some aspects of the plan. Several members of the West Hollywood community had been outspoken about the project, and some organized an Occupy Plummer Park event in November.

“It was good news in the sense that it sounds like they’re abandoning the underground parking,” Blaivis said.

That had been a contentious aspect of the plan. Opponents feared that subterranean parking would result in the loss of 54 old-growth trees that provide shade, and also force the park to be closed for a considerable amount of time during construction.

While opponents are grateful, the city’s action does not come without concerns. Blaivis said she doesn’t know how the current architects, who specialize in modern and ultramodern architecture, would be able to tweak their design to fit with neighboring structures and the historical status of Plummer Park.

“It is good news,” she added. “I’m just hoping that the community … has some sort of a dialogue [with city officials] this time around. …We have guarded optimism.”



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4 Responses to “Plummer Park Plan, 2.0”

  1. Rudolf Martin says:

    thank you for this article, as a resident of the Plummer Park area I appreciate good coverage of this issue.
    I’d be interested in your source of information concerning the funding of this project (“reserves in the general and parking funds, bonds and private money”).
    So far the city has been vague but have claimed that $30 Million will come from bonds (debt!) and $11.3 Million from tax increments (projected future increase in tax revenue). “Fund Reserves” had never been mentioned by the city and “Private Money” involved in the funding would be big news to all of us who follow the issue closely now.
    Could you please share the source(s) for this statement?
    Thank you.
    Rudolf Martin

  2. joninla says:

    The vagueness of what the City will and will not be willing to change about the project plans (especially the absolute necessity that there is going to be an underground parking garage contained within the boundaries of the existing park), along with what they called a “surprise” for Christmas – engaging architects to make revisions BEFORE any of the community input that was promised even has a change to understand and make input.

    What is fundamentally wrong with this Project and the stage it has now gotten to,is the AMOUNT OF OUTRAGED COMMUNITY EFFORT trying to stop the City from Destroying an entire park and 54 Big Old Trees.

    The City of West Hollywood has a strong enforcement of it’s absolute prohibition of any tree even being trimmed, let alone cut down. Yet it rushes in with Big Money to destroy so many trees in one fell swoop – FOR NO REASON – there is no necessity for the 69 parking spaces, especially at the cost of $41 Million Dollars.

    As usual, I suspect the motivation and the contract awarded for a $41 Million Dollar Parking Structure, was based on special arrangements between the City Council and the extremely wealthy land developers who clearly have control over the Council. (why else would they vote to destroy a park and spend $41 Million dollars to do it).

  3. GiveBackWesternHollywood says:

    The lack of initiative and progressive thinking in regards to preservation of the park versus completely revamping the area just will continue and continue without any sound judgement coming from Council, including the newly appointed D’Amico who has yet to be vocal in opposing views. Keeping Land on board only keeps the last 10 years of this nightmare to continue onward for another 2-5 years of our lives while not one solar panel will be placed on any of the structures.

    I say, give the City of West Hollywood back to Los Angeles. Why was there an emancipation to begin with? I don’t find the independence of the select group of dirty-palmed city folk. Arevalo has to be THE worst of them all.

    Instead of looking at the city of Santa Monica and the green, eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives that due to the small size, they can dictate a stronger message with a higher positive impact on the public.

    The City of West Hollywood is a bad example of anything progressive. The fact is, if it weren’t for the taxes generated in the 1.9 mile strip of area, the city would come apart at the wheels. It’s always ‘easy’ to run government when you have a sh*tbag of revenue. It’s not about that though. It is about truly listening to the ‘needs’ of the community and to this earth and NOT to feed egos.

    It is a sin what those people have turned the city of West Hollywood into. Sincerely, they should just give it back to Los Angeles…

  4. Romie says:

    This article contains inaccuracies and for that, the author should be embarrassed. The term “old growth” is not correct. A majority of the trees to be removed are small, edge species and in poor health. If the author had attended the numerous public meetings on the design of the park, he would know and understand this issue better. And I find it incredible that people are voting for less park in exchange for surface parking! If the cost for greater acreage of park (from three to five) is the removal and replacement of trees (of a greater quantity), then I’m for it! The current proposed design is excellent, and I’m for it. These protesters are making statements out of ignorance and have hijacked the project. Shame on them!

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