While pushing his daughter and son on the ìSway Funî playground ride at the newly opened Sports Park at Playa Vista, Westchester resident Allen Erenbaum was quick to tell how much his children enjoyed the ride.
ìTheyíve been on this since we got here,î Erenbaum said of his seven-year-old daughter Emma and ten-year-old son Joshua.
The ìuniversally accessibleî playground designed by the nonprofit organization Shaneís Inspiration was but one of the several facilities that were introduced to the community as Playa Vista held a grand opening for its seven-acre Sports Park Sunday, April 1st.
The new $5 million park, at the southern end of Playa Vista Drive and east of Lincoln Boulevard, features a variety of athletic facilities, including a Little League baseball field, a synthetic turf soccer field, two half-basketball courts and two tennis courts.
In addition to the playground, the park features such other attractions as the first segment of a two-mile-long trail that parallels the Riparian Corridor and includes exercise stations and viewpoints.
Playa Vista kicked off the opening of its newest recreation area with several festivities that included soccer, baseball and basketball clinics, and the event even had appearances by star athletes ó Los Angeles Clippers player Corey Maggette and former Dodger Steve Garvey ó who both signed autographs.
Playa Vista officials hailed the newest addition to the developmentís park system, which they said was created with input from the community and is open to the public.
ìThis is the park of the future,î Playa Vista president Steve Soboroff said. ìI think this is one of the most exciting parks of the whole system. Weíre doing something very special in this community, not just for the people who live here but for our neighbors.î
Tom Jones, Playa Vista vice president of planning, said the Sports Park is one of 24 park and recreation sites that are planned for the overall park system at Playa Vista.
ìThis is a very exciting point for us,î Jones said of the Sports Park opening. ìThis is so far the biggest site we have and it has the biggest collection of active recreation facilities in it.î
The seven-acre Sports Park at Playa Vista is on a 13-acre site which is also home to the 1.7-acre Ballona Discovery Center and the site of the proposed four-acre Playa Vista School, Jones said.
In designing the park, Playa Vista officials approached Shaneís Inspiration, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities, to design a playground that would allow children with disabilities to play alongside their able-bodied peers.
The playground, which features a spongy surface and various equipment that is wheelchair accessible, is one of 11 other Shaneís Inspiration playgrounds in Southern California.
ìItís exciting to have another playground on the Westside,î said Tiffany Harris, Shaneís Inspiration executive director. ìThis is a beautiful park environment.î
Harris added that ìevery inchî of the playground is accessible, to make it just as exciting for typically-abled children as it is for children with disabilities.
ìThe dream of Shaneís is that all kids can play together,î said Shaneís Inspiration board member Mark Epstein.
Westchester resident Erenbaum said his daughter and son, who has autism, are frequent visitors to other Shaneís playgrounds but noted that he was impressed with the Sports Park at Playa Vista.
ìThis is a beautiful facility,î Erenbaum said. ìWe need more parks in L.A. and this place makes this part of L.A. a better place to live.î
Erenbaum praised the playground for allowing his son to have the opportunity to play with other typically-abled children, and for making it fun for his daughter as well.
ìItís great to have a place thatís accessible to all kids,î he said.
Among the other park features that attracted scores of visitors at the grand opening was the synthetic turf soccer field.
The soccer field, which requires no irrigation, fertilizer or mowing, allows athletes to play year-round ó a key advantage for teams, according to coach Christian Chambers.
Chambers hailed the park for incorporating several different sports facilities together, saying that many other parks in the area accommodate only one sport.
ìI think itís a fantastic facility,î said Chambers, who coaches soccer for Coast Sports, an organization offering sports programs for youngsters from three to 14 years old.
ìIn a city like L.A., where thereís constant construction, this kind of thing is sorely missing. It would be nice if there were a few more of them around.î
Another area coach who came to test out the facilities with his athletes at the Sports Park at Playa Vista was Del Rey Little League coach Al Llorens.
Llorens also offered his compliments for the park after he pitched a few baseballs at the regulation Little League field, composed of Bermuda grass.
ìThis brings excitement to the community and the kids are enjoying another place to play,î Llorens said. ìWe have to keep focused on the youths, and this provides a facility that will help them grow.î
Llorens said he was particularly impressed with the bullpen facility and the ìwell-keptî infield.
ìItís located in a beautiful spot and itís a great atmosphere,î Llorens said of the field.
In choosing the specific site for the park, Playa Vista officials wanted to ensure not only that they provided for recreation but that the facility would not be a ìnuisanceî to residents, Jones said.
The site that was selected is fitting for the park and ìnoisy sportsî because itís located away from residences and next to the bluffs, Jones said.
Playa Vista officials said they expect active people from throughout the area to descend on their newest park, and if Erenbaum and his family are any indication, it should become a hot spot.
ìWeíll be regular visitors here,î Erenbaum said.