By Aaron Blevins, 8/09/2012
WeHo Council awaits state decision on project funding
Plans to renovate Plummer Park in West Hollywood have hit a standstill, as state officials and legislators continue to deal with the dissolution of the state’s redevelopment agencies, which were abolished in January.
David Wilson, West Hollywood’s finance director, said the city had issued approximately $30 million in bonds for Plummer Park through its Community Development Commission. As the commission’s successor agency, the city now possesses the funds, but can only spend them as they are approved by the California Department of Finance.
“As part of the disillusionment of redevelopment, those funds are now tied up,” Wilson said.
He said the city must send recognized obligation payment schedules to the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller and the department of finance every six months. So far, two have been approved, totaling $1.4 million. However, the Legislature recently passed a new law, AB 1484, which gives the department more power, Wilson said.
“We’re just not certain that they’re going to continue to approve them,” he said, adding that the city should know more by October. “Then we’ll have more certainty [and] we can go forward with the project.”
Wilson said the funding has somewhat trickled in because the project is not under construction. He said the $1.4 million allocated so far will be used for design-related costs and project management, and $800,000 has been spent. Once the city enters into a construction contract, the allocations will likely increase significantly, Wilson said.
The Plummer Park project was nearing construction last October, when a group of residents called for revisions. Opponents feared that a proposed subterranean parking lot at the park would close a majority of it for an extended period of time. They also expressed concern about the uprooting of old trees and “ultra-modern” architecture that would contrast with surrounding structures.
The original plan proposed an expansion and renovation of Fiesta Hall, an interactive water feature, a central park promenade, new playground equipment and the relocation of the basketball courts, among other things. The cost was expected to be approximately $41 million.
Construction was expected to commence in January or February, but opponents garnered 700 signatures for a petition and staged an Occupy Plummer Park event. In December, the West Hollywood City Council created a subcommittee to re-examine the project and take concerns into account. Recommendations were expected at the end of February, but have yet to materialize.
Helen Collins, the city’s senior administrative analyst for the department of human services, said no official changes have been made, although there has been plenty of discussion.
“Nothing’s been finalized,” she said, adding that the city knew that the redevelopment issue could affect the project.
Collins said the city plans to hold a meeting to discuss potential changes, but no date has been set.
“We’re just waiting on clarification from the state,” she said. “It’s kind of on hold right now.”