By Aaron Blevins, 11/29/2012
Park to reopen in spring after irrigation project
The Wattles Estate on North Curson Avenue sits on a hill in Hollywood, offering lovely views of the city, several acres of green space, unique gardens and a glimpse into the lifestyle patterns of the wealthy during the turn of the century.
While the Wattles Mansion, its rear garden and the community garden on the front lawn are closed to the public, various aspects of the property are open for public use, and the community takes advantage.
However, that open green space has been replaced with padlocks recently, as a construction project has wilted residents’ accessibility to the estate’s rear park, which is not expected to open again until next spring.
Following 25 years of restoration work by Hollywood Heritage, the city has been completing erosion and drainage improvements. While that work is finished, the contractor accidentally broke some unmarked irrigation pipes, which were then repaired. The city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, however, requested a redesign for the irrigation pipes to meet department standards, Jackson-Fossett said.
“These new improvements are under design,” she said, adding that the design should be finished in the next 30 days. “It is going through the standard process.”
Jackson-Fossett could not say why the park is closed during the design phase, deferring to the Department of Recreation and Parks, which did not answer a request for comment by deadline.
Residents, though, are ready to have the green space reopened. George Baker, a UCLA professor who lives in the area, said the park has been closed for approximately 15 months.
“The park is just locked up and abandoned,” he said.
Baker, who lives two blocks away from the North Curson park, uses the green space to walk his dog, picnic with his wife and socialize with his neighbors. He said it’s an important part of the community.
“This was the only park that is close to a large part of the community here,” Baker said, adding that many Hollywood residents who live in condos use the park. “It was basically my yard. …It’s a large, large, large open green space.”
He said he hasn’t noticed any work being done in the last year or so, and the community was anticipating the park reopening this winter.
“There’s nothing happening,” Baker added. “There’s been no communication with the public that I’m aware of.”
He said hikers in Runyon Canyon, which has trails that lead to the Wattles Estate, have become stuck in the park. The area has a 20-foot gate, and some have opted to climb over to get out, Baker said.
“It’s just kind of crazy,” he added.
The Wattles Estate was the summer home of a wealthy banker, Gurdon Wattles, who built the property in 1909. The property once housed a large Japanese garden, but run-off and other environmental impacts have washed out many of the garden’s features.