The city may be best known for shady deals, but this one is not only benevolent, it’s good for the kids.
Valley Village Park, which many residents in Valley Village consider the crown jewel of the community, has been on the short end when it comes to shade – worse off now than in the past when towering Eucalyptus trees graced the park. Unfortunately, many of these trees were claimed by disease years ago and had to be removed for safety reasons.
The lack of shade not only makes the playground and picnic areas of the park uncomfortable to use during the hotter months, there could be detrimental health effects – especially for anyone with sensitive skin. Even with the use of sunscreen, prolonged playtime for kids may not be advisable.
If our local families had the freedom to limit their visits to morning or late afternoon hours, perhaps this would not be that big a deal. However, lifestyles being what they are, many parents do not have the luxury of scheduling play time for their children during the most comfortable parts of the day.
I recall my childhood days when I lived in the Bronx – it really wasn’t all that long ago….in geologic time. Playing on the concrete sidewalks from 11 AM to about 3 PM was not an option. The nearest shady park was quite a distance, and even there the playground equipment was not covered. You needed a NASA spacesuit to play on the equipment or you risked receiving burns.
A subcommittee of Neighborhood Council Valley Village has been hard at work creating a new plan for the park. Shade is just one component of the larger picture. The plan has been discussed in public subcommittee meetings and was presented to the entire NCVV Board at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting held on April 27 at the Colfax Charter School auditorium.
The funding for the project comes from the city’s Quimby Fund; use is restricted to park upgrades – not maintenance. The source for the Fund comes from developer fees.
Laura Chick audited the fund back in 2008 and found it underutilized, which may have been partly due to lack of administrative support from Recreation and Parks.
Regardless, the Recreation and Parks Department has been most cooperative in working with NCVV since the inception of the project and a plan is ready for immediate implementation. I personally sensed the commitment of the department’s staff member assigned to us when she appeared before the NCVV Board this week.
Recently, a group of stakeholders has proposed another concept for dealing with the shade (the group is otherwise in full agreement with the rest of the plan).
While the group’s participation is a welcome development (there should be such involvement in everything the Board considers), their concept comes so late in the process that I fear it could delay the implementation of an already well vetted plan.
In the past, such a delay would have been a minor consideration, but times are different now. As one who has followed the angst and turmoil created by the city’s budget crisis ( and covered in this blog in great depth), I fear any delay may put us at risk of losing our place in line for use of Quimby Fund dollars.
All projects affecting city property requires administrative support from the city – even when fully funded as this one is. Although I am not a fan of the administrative capabilities of the city as a whole, the local Recreation and Parks people have proven themselves to be a true partner in this endeavor.
The design differences between the existing and proposed shade concepts are immaterial in my view – certainly not worth delaying the implementation and incurring the risks associated with it.
I recognize there are a wide range of tastes and preferences. There will rarely be unanimity among individuals or groups. However, we are united in our commitment to make Valley Village the gold standard of urban neighborhoods.
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