A proposed improvement project for the Windward Avenue area from Ocean Front Walk to Kinney Plaza in Venice has yet to receive the support of the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council.

Kinney Plaza — at Main Street, Grand Boulevard and Windward Avenue — is also known as Windward Circle and Venice Circle.

Monday, November 8th, the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council voted to refer the project to its Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) and Arts Committee for consideration. However, this was before this week’s letter from the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to Grass Roots Venice board members (see page 3) that invalidated the Grass Roots June election.

The project — which would include the placement of a Robert Graham bronze sculpture of a nude female torso in Kinney Plaza — has been recommended by the Windward Circle District and Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.

The sculpture weighs 3,500 pounds and is mounted on a stainless steel base bolted to a concrete pad.

The project calls for more than $500,000 of the Venice Surplus Real Property fund to be spent for the project.

Required funds for the proposed project include:

– site furniture and sculpture installation, including sculpture night lighting, $75,000;

– palm trees and irrigation, surrounding the circle flanking Windward to the beach, $150,000;

– street median planters, streets intersecting the circle, $125,000;

– Windward Circle traffic bollards, surrounding the circle, $40,000;

– crosswalks surrounding circle, stamped and colored, $100,000; and

– crosswalks at Pacific and Windward Avenues, $70,000.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $560,000.

The project would include artistic designs painted on asphalt crosswalks throughout the area in addition to the bronze statue sculpted by Graham.

Grass Roots Venice board member Emily Winters was supportive of the project.

“The statue has an ocean-like feel to it,” Winters said.

Winters suggested that Venice community members be involved in the improvement project by possibly painting murals on alleyways around the Kinney Plaza area.

Others opposed the project, including board member John Davis, who said:

“I would personally find it a sexist statement to have the headless torso of a female nude in the most predominant place in Venice.”

Sandy Kievman, Miscikowski Venice area deputy, encouraged the improvement project.

“The circle (in its current state) is the gateway to the boardwalk, but it’s dirty and not very attractive,” said Kievman.

Michael King, proposed project architect, said the timeframe to complete the project would be swift.

“Our admittedly ambitious goal is to complete the project prior to the Venice Centennial in the summer of 2005,” said King.

During public comment on the item, 40-year Venice resident Dan Valenzuela voiced his concern about landscaping, graffiti on buildings, and an overall “dirty” environment around the circle.

Other board members expressed concerns about the durability of paint that would be placed on asphalt at the site.

King said the life span of the paint is about seven years.

The project was scheduled to be before the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council Land Use and Planning Committee and Arts Committee as agenda items next month.

THANKSGIVING — The Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council agreed to spend $600 for 100 meals to be cooked by Cafe 50s restaurant and delivered by board members to the needy in Venice as part of a Thanksgiving Assistance Program.

“This will be a great way to support a local business and give back to the community,” said Suzanne Thompson, Grass Roots president.

The program, spearheaded by board member DeDe McCrary, would include distributing the Thanksgiving meals, which would include fresh turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, to “families in need.”

McCrary said that local community representatives, including pastors, ministers, and rabbis, have assisted her in establishing a list of Venice families in need of a Thanksgiving meal.

“This will be a great opportunity to give back to the community,” said McCrary.

McCrary — who was an employee of a Venice supermarket last year and participated in the union strike — said many families of strikers did not have the means to have a Thanksgiving meal last year.

“That’s what inspired me to organize this program,” she said.

McCrary has since retired as an employee of the supermarket.

She plans to organize a similar assistance program in conjunction with the Neighborhood Council for Venice families during Christmas.

SPARC — The council voted to spend $1,000 in support of a bilingual holiday show to be held at the Social and Public Arts Resource Center (SPARC), 685 Venice Blvd., at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 18th.

Martha Ramirez-Oropeza will direct a pastorela (Mexican shepherd’s songs) and Christmas show.

Ramirez-Oropeza has produced and directed this traditional Mexican Christmas show in Cuernavaca, Mexico for the past 30 years with the Mascarones Theatre Company.

Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council information, (310) 821-6030 or http://www.grvnc.org