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November 29, 2010

3

Children’s Discovery Center to be part of Union Plaza

by Deena Winter

Parks Director Lynn Johnson said Will and Robert Scott’s nonprofit foundation will be making a $250,000 donation for a “nature learning and discovery area” in Union Plaza.
This Children’s Discovery Garden looks like a giant climbing structure, with a slide and stone tables, benches and a “humming stone.” Students from nearby Elliott Elementary School helped come up with ideas for the garden.
This is just one bit of news that came out of a recent park board meeting I attended. Here’s more:
• A request for proposals will go out soon seeking a tenant for 2,100 square feet of retail space in the “active living center” planned at 21st and Q streets in Union Plaza (that park in Antelope Valley). The Community Health Endowment will occupy the second floor. Parks Director Lynn Johnson said the roof was going to be green, but that plan has been scrapped.
• A campaign recently began where people can help sponsor the Pioneers Park Nature Center. People can “adopt an acre” for $100 or buy an inscribed brick for a path to Heritage School for $250 or pay for the care of an animal for one year. A bald eagle can be sponsored for $2,000, deer herd for $3,500 and bison herd for $5,000. The 668-acre nature center has been the subject of city budget talks in recent years, since it costs about $600,000 a year to operate the place, which brings in about $125,000 in revenue.
• Johnson confirmed that the city parks department will get a $400,000 donation – I’d heard reports of a donation as high as $750,000 – to help with the $1.8 million renovation of Sherman Field, which was built in 1947. The city will be upgrading the sports facilities, lighting, plaza, parking and concourse around the grandstand. Johnson still isn’t publicly saying where the money is coming from. A $400,000 endowment will also be established. Since Sherman Field sits about four feet below the 100-year flood stage, the buildings will be “flood proof” – meaning water will flow into them during storms, and them workers will hose down the floors and they’ll be ready to go.
• They’re still working on ideas for the civic plaza that’s long been planned for 13th and P streets (used to be a vacant theater, now a parking lot). Johnson says it should be built by 2012, and a report is being finalized by a New York City consultant brought in to engage the public on the plaza. He said $1.1 million in funding has been identified and private funds will also be raised.
• The inefficient, old balloon-like tennis courts at Woods Tennis Center will need to be replaced soon, Johnson said. A nonprofit may take them over, he said. There are 15 courts at Woods now, Johnson said, but it needs 18 to support most tourneys. “Very good things are happening at Woods,” he said, referring to attendance figures.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. CJ
    Nov 29 2010

    Very interesting report, Deena. Thanks for going to the meeting. It’s nice to get news (REAL news) that we otherwise wouldn’t get!

    Reply
  2. Nov 29 2010

    Thanks, CJ.

    Reply
  3. Deb K.
    Nov 30 2010

    What exactly did Lynn Johnson mean by “a non-profit may take them over” regarding new enclosed structures at Woods Park? Will they sell this to the non-profit? Are the 18 courts out at Abbott Sports Complex not sufficient? Was just wondering, since Woods Park seems to be encroached upon by these private/public ventures by P&R, somewhat to the detriment of the public taxpayers who foot the bill, and the neighborhood residents who love Woods Park, and possibly Abbott Sports Complex. With the new proposed sport complex north of the new arena, the improvements to Antelope Valley (which I think are impressive), the alcohol allowed in parks, and this joint venture in Woods Park, I believe P&R has a fairly aggressive agenda, and I think a cost/benefit analysis should be done, at least on some of these projects. I’m all for urban development, but whoa, Nellie, let’s take a breath and let the public catch up!

    Reply

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