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Whole Lotta City Projects Goin’ On:

A group of Santa Monicans recently got the opportunity to tour some of the City’s capital improvement projects.

The tour began at the Main Library and for the second year in a row highlighted the City’s park system. The first stop was Reed Park which is in the process of being updated. Thus far, the tennis court lights have been replaced and new concrete walkways have been added between the courts. In the future, the children’s play area will be expanded, a new garden will be placed adjacent to Miles Playhouse, and the Wilshire Boulevard edge will be re-landscaped.

A stop was also made at Euclid Park which became the newest park in Santa Monica in 24 years when it opened in July 2007. The park has a “backyard” neighborhood theme and includes a children’s play area, community garden plots, three circular-shaped seating areas, two small green lawn areas, and a trellis entry linking the open space with meeting rooms.

The City’s Director of Community and Cultural Services, Barbara Stinchfield, mentioned that a community engagement process to develop a master plan for Memorial Park would begin in 2009. Memorial Park will eventually include the former Fisher Lumber site which the City purchased in 2005. Currently, the site is serving as an operations facility for the Santa Monica Community Maintenance Department’s Public Landscape Division.

Another highlight of the tour was a stop at Palisades Park to view the site of the 5-acre Annenberg Beach Project where construction is 60 percent complete. This revitalization project involves restoring the historic swimming pool, renovating the historic Marion Davies Guest House, adding an event house, pool house, children’s splash pad, gardens, and public art. The project will be completed in April 2009.

Tour participants also got a chance to visit Bergamot Station which the City is hoping will become an actual Expo Light Rail station by 2015. (Santa Monica is part of Phase II Expo Light Rail Project.) Two alternative rail routes are currently being studied to connect Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with three potential Santa Monica stations. A route will be selected in winter of 2009.

There was also a description on the tour by Lee Swain, the City’s new Director of Public Works, of the updates that have been done to the Woodlawn Cemetery. These updates included new business offices, enhanced landscape maintenance services, and an interactive information kiosk.

Swain also mentioned that the City and Caltrans have commissioned an additional geotechnical study for the scope and funding of the Palisades Bluffs Improvement Project and the California Incline Rebuild. The revised traffic section of the draft Environmental Impact Report for these projects will be available this summer for public comment.

The tour also drove by the Santa Monica College of Performing Arts, scheduled to open on September 20. The site contains two performance spaces, the Broad Stage and Edye Second Space, both of which are named after Eli and Edye Broad who earlier this year donated a $10 million endowment for the site.

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