City residents once again had the opportunity to tour Santa Monica with the City’s eighth annual “Whole Lotta Projects Goin’ On” bus tour.
The tour started and ended at the new Main Library that opened last January. The tour then headed to Christine Reed Park, which will be improved with new tennis court lights, new walkways between the courts, an expansion of its tot lot and new landscaping along its perimeter.
We also got a chance to view the site of the Santa Monica College Madison Project at 11th St. and Arizona Ave. When completed, the campus will house a new 504-seat theater as well as the College’s arts program. The Euclid Park project at Euclid between Colorado and Broadway was also featured. This park when completed, according to the tour guidebook, will incorporate “features that typically are found in residential rear yards, yet still be appropriate for public use.”
The tour also drove by the former site of Fisher Lumber at 14th St. and Colorado, purchased by the City in 2005 for a future public use. Currently, it is the site of the City’s Open Space Management Division’s operations unit. We also passed the Exposition Right of Way that will be utilized in the future as part of the City efforts to bring Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) light rail to the Westside. In anticipation of this project the City has purchased Bergamot Station and the land next to it as well as the Sears Automotive Site for possible use as a light rail terminus. Construction of a bike path and an adjacent pedestrian walkway along the right of way from Centinela to 17th St. is scheduled to begin in early 2007.
Our tour drove past the Ocean Park Community Center property at Michigan and Cloverfield, slated to house the center’s Daybreak and Safe Haven shelters when it is completed this fall. We then entered the nearby City yards that were built in the 1940’s and are going to be renovated and improved over the next six years. Currently they house the City fleet, CNG fueling station, solid waste, recycling, maintenance, paint and plumbing shops, warehouse, the Fire Department training facility and the municipal hydrogen fueling station.
Tour participants then got a chance to explore Virginia Avenue Park, which opened in December of 2005. Judy Franz, our tour guide and an Assistant to the City Manager, mentioned it is the only park in the country that has received a silver LEED rating. LEED stands for leadership in environment and energy design. We continued on to the 8.3-acre Airport Park, to open in January 2007 with sports fields, lawn areas, off-leash dog area, playground equipment, restrooms and parking.
Later we passed the construction for the 900-space Civic Center Parking structure located directly behind the Santa Monica County courts. The structure should be completed at the end of this year.
Also discussed on the tour were improvements that will be made in the future for access to the Pier. Said Franz, “The plan is to improve pedestrian access by creating wider sidewalks and lower curb heights. The City is also considering other access improvements such as the addition of a vehicle ramp into the 1550 parking lot north of the Pier.” Another area of the City that will be improved and maintained in the future is the Palisades Bluffs. Geo-technical consultants have recommended improvement efforts that “will include installation of and de-watering subsurface drainage systems…surface grouting, filling of erosion pockets, ground cracks and deep gullies, and micro piles.”
The other tour guides were Craig Perkins, the City’s Director of Environmental and Public Works Management, and Susan Annett, the Principal Librarian of the Santa Monica Public Library.