By Edwin Folven, 8/09/2012
A new community room, children’s play area, basketball courts and other amenities were unveiled at Poinsettia Park on Tuesday ahead of the “National Night Out Against Crime” celebration, which drew more than 1,000 people to the park.
The upgrades at Poinsettia Park cost approximately $1 million, and were paid for using Quimby funds, which are payments made to the city by developers that are to be used for parks, and Prop. K, a ballot measure that established funding for municipal projects. Park goers will enjoy improvements to the baseball fields, a new gym floor, new handball courts and a walking/jogging path. Kevin Regan, assistant general manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, said the work is part of the city’s overall goal of promoting healthy lifestyles.
“Adults and children are not getting enough physical activities these days, and with amenities like this … it not only gets people to exercise, it gets people outdoors,” Regan said. “The new exercise equipment has been very popular. It allows you to use your own body weight, so it’s very hard to strain yourself.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, was in attendance Tuesday.
“The new children’s area is greatly improved,” Koretz said. “There is also the two new baseball diamonds. I have played here before, and they look great.”
Paul Lerner, a Melrose District resident who co-founded the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch, declared it a job well done. Lerner said the organization was founded after the murder four years ago of Katan Khaimov, a 70-year-old victim who was stabbed to death near the park. Lerner added that in 2008, the park was so overrun by transients that many people avoided the area.
“This is a wonderful day,” Lerner said. “Four years ago, this park was very troubled and blighted. Four years later, the community has really come together to take back our park. It’s a great example of what happens when a neighborhood comes together to work with the police department and does something productive.”
The attraction was evident among the crowds that came out to celebrate “National Night Out Against Crime”. Dozens of food vendors and informational booths were present, along with a collection of vintage police cars. Police officers and firefighters met with local residents, including Capt. Eric Davis, commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division, who said the event is an important tool in the fight against crime.
“It’s a love affair between us and the community,” Davis said. “As I walk through here, people come up to me and share stories about their encounters with officers out in the field. The stories they share are quite special, and I am very proud of our officers.”
Peter Nichols, co-founder of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch and an organizer of the “National Night Out Against Crime” observance, said establishing a relationship with the police officers who patrol the neighborhood is paramount. The “National Night Out” event at Poinsettia Park was one of hundreds held throughout the city, including at Park La Brea, and in the City of West Hollywood.
“This is the biggest and best event we have ever had. We had more than one thousand people come through, and I’m ecstatic there is so much support in the community,” Nichols added. “There is no better way to bring about community policing than putting on an event like this.”