“Palisades Garden Walk” will be an answer to a trivia question: what was the park wedged in between City Hall and Santa Monica Beach named during its development and construction? Indeed, Palisades Garden Walk is now a footnote in the history books as the newest public open space and recreation area in Santa Monica will be named Tongva Park.
In a 4-1 vote, Council members voted Tuesday to honor a group of Santa Monica’s earliest inhabitants, the Tongva tribe. Naming the new recreation area Tongva Park will help visitors learn more about Santa Monica’s history, Council members hope.
Other names considered: Arroyo Park or Santa Monica Arroyo Park; Parque del Sol; and, Santa Monica Commons.
City staff presented the names to 550 members of the community. According to staff, the public outreaches “did not reveal a single clear preference for a name.” With a lack of consensus, City staff recommended the council retain the Palisades Garden Walk name.
In all, there were 166 name suggestions.
Some interesting suggestions: Attention Park; Big Wow Park; Central Park West; Endless Summer Garden; Fresh Air Park; Park for All; Planetarium of Eden; Santa Monica Garden of Eden Center; Scrub Jay Park; Spaceship Adventure Fun Park; The Mecca; The Shire; and, Wonderful Waterfalls Park.
However, during council discussion, Council member Gleam Davis said choosing the name Tongva Park would make the recreation area more than just a place to visit, but also an opportunity to learn more about Santa Monica’s history.
The sole nay vote was Council member Bob Holbrook; Mayor Pam O’Connor and Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day were both absent during the discussion.
A six-acre park abutted by Ocean Avenue on one side and Main Street on the other, Tongva Park is currently under construction. According to City Hall, Tongva Park would be complete as early as Summer 2013.
When the previous council initially approved the project, it carried a price tag of $46.1 million. However, with the loss of redevelopment, Council members had contemplated how to lower the cost.
The Tongva people lived in the Santa Monica area hundreds of years ago, well before the first non-indigenous inhabitants occupied the area about 250 years ago. According to the City staff report, about 1,500 people currently identify themselves as Tongva. The report also stated they were a sea faring people and several Southern California communities carry a Tongva name, including Azusa, Cahuenga Pass, Pacoima, Rancho Cucamonga, Topanga, and Tujunga.