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Rustic Canyon Park Improvement Project Still Unfinished 14 Months After Start:

On September 8, 2005, the Rustic Canyon Local Volunteer Neighborhood Oversight Committee (LVNOC), chaired by Nelson Willis, met in the Center to review the progress of Prop K renovations to the Park building and grounds. Present in addition to committee members and guests were George Wolfberg of SMCCA, Norman Kulla representing Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and Dave Takata, newly representing the Bureau of Engineering for the project. During the course of that meeting, under somewhat heated questioning by LVNOC members, several things emerged.One was that while the City took under consideration LVNOC concerns and suggestions on such matters as priorities, they were in no way binding and the City would proceed based on its own reading of these priorities and its own needs. Secondly, it was learned that $250,000 of the allotted $390,000 for the project already had been spent for two of the 14 elements in the Engineer’s scope of work: reconstructing the ramp leading down into the Park basin to handicap accessible standards, and remodeling the two bathrooms in the clubhouse to ADA specifications.Thirdly, it was determined that only three of the remaining nine proposed Prop K improvements could be done with what money remained. These were: repair of the patio area adjacent to the clubhouse; resurfacing of the ball field and installation of a new irrigation system for the ball field and the grassy area between the tennis courts; and installation of the historically accurate French doors in the clubhouse.Finally, it was agreed that Mr. Takata would prepare estimates and submit them to LVNOC by the end of October 2005, even though that Committee was officially dissolved with this final meeting. By early December estimates for the three remaining improvements had not been provided by Mr. Takata. The ADA ramp, however, had been completed, turned down as non-conforming by inspectors, and subsequently resurfaced and extended to conform to ADA specifications. As of January 5, 2006, the ADA ramp has been completed and approved, except for minor railing adjustments.The cost of the re-surfacing was borne by the contractor, in this case the City, and the extensions turned out to have been in the original plan and had already been paid for. A December 22nd front-page article in the Palisadian Post by Linda Renaud quoted a list of criticisms of Recreation and Parks over these matters made by Mr. Willis in an e-mail to other LVNOC members. These criticisms included the slow progress and high cost of the improvements to date, and the alleged disregard shown for priorities established by the residents of Rustic Canyon as expressed through their LVNOC representatives.In a January 5 phone conversation, Neil Drucker, Takata’s Supervisor at the Bureau of Engineering, said that additional funds May become available to extend the scope of the remaining work. He added that estimates for the remaining work are being prepared and will be made available in a timely manner for review by the former LVNOC Committee members and other interested parties by way of Rosendahl’s office, along with news about additional funding.Editor’s note: SMCCA will be following up with City officials to encourage timely completion of the project envisioned by the LVNOC. Please send your comments to info@smcca.org, or to our P.O. Box. Several historical reports are available on the www.smcca.org web site and any new information will be posted when receivedEd. Note: This article originally appeared in The Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association News

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