Wants Titmouse Park to remain unchanged

To the Editor,

I wanted to address inaccuracies in the March 27th Argonaut story, “Efforts under way to upgrade and rename Titmouse Park.”

Titmouse Park is not neglected in any way. It has been beautifully and conscientiously maintained by the Department of Recreation and Parks staff who attend to the park at least three times a week.

As regards usage, local residents use the park for enjoyment and dog walking every day.

There is limited street parking and residents and local businesses will be affected if this area is transformed into a tourist attraction. A telescope and observation deck are not acceptable to this local resident with regard to the issue of privacy of residents both on Culver Boulevard and Vista del Mar.

The Arundo donax plant, a cornerstone of Titmouse Park, was in no way invasive and has grown only minimally over the 15 years that I have lived in Playa del Rey. I was shocked to discover it had been hacked down in order to erect an extremely unsightly makeshift fence of wooden pallets and wood debris that seems to serve no purpose other than attempting to prevent local residents from accessing the perimeter of the wetlands and enjoying this little pocket of quietude adjacent to the extremely busy traffic and noise of Culver Boulevard.

I would think a more natural and appropriate gateway to the Ballona Wetlands would be their current entrance via the parking lot at Gordon’s Market that affords vast amounts of parking space and potential for visitor center developments, and not a very small “jewel” of Playa del Rey that local residents are very fond of with its welcoming array of plants and trees, mice, squirrels and owls, but, sadly, now lacking its impressive display of seven-foot-tall giant river reed that once occupied a small corner of the park.

Michael Doyle, Playa del Rey

Friends of Ballona president tells origins of park

To the Editor:

I’m delighted to hear that volunteers are going to work in the small park on Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey. [See “Efforts under way to upgrade and rename “Titmouse Park” in The Argonaut, March 27th.]

Here’s a little of itsÝhistory. Sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s, Jill Swift, a Recreation and Parks Commission member, called to let me know that some merchants wanted to take those Department of Recreation and Parks lots and turn them into a parking lot.ÝShe felt that was not an appropriate use for Rec and Parks land.

At the time, the lots were justÝdirt and weeds. So some other members of Friends of Ballona Wetlands and I got together and proposed a pocket park there. We went before the commission and were granted the opportunity toÝcreate one.

We enlisted the Playa del Rey Junior Women’s Club and many neighbors (even some of the merchants).

WeÝgot the National Guard to do the groundwork, received donated trees and plants and got the telephone pole fenceÝfrom the phone company (there was only one company then — the one now known as Verizon). Familian Pipe donated the watering system,Ýand weÝworked withÝUCLA Landscape Design students to come up with a plan.

The building owner next door (Dr. Dubbs) kindly allowed us to attach the sprinkler system to his building, many neighbors did the planting and took turns thereafter caring for the park.

It would be great for the community to pitch in once again,Ýreplace the aged pipes and sprinklers (or replant with drought-resistant native plants), and maintain the park.

The rear of the park would be an ideal location for a platform and scopes for viewing the wetlands. I think that, rather than naming the park after some specific animal or plant, it might be nice to bring attention to Ballona by calling it “Ballona Gateway” or “Ballona View” park.

Bud Harris was very helpful and a great sign maker, despite his quirky choice of “Titmouse Park.” AÝfew years ago (before the state purchased Ballona) we had a sign along Culver Boulevard announcing our tours and restoration work parties.

Some vandal tore the sign down and dumped it in a nearby stream. Bud helped us rescue it and restored it for us. We later donated the sign to the state and it’s stillÝthere onÝCulver Boulevard.

So go to it, folks. I look forward to seeing a green, refreshed park.

Ruth Lansford, president, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Playa del Rey