County asks residents what public park improvements they’d like to see in Marina del Rey

By Gary Walker

As part of an effort to repair and improve Los Angeles County’s 178 public parks or recreational facilities, county parks officials were in Marina del Rey on Jan. 30 to ask locals what kinds of improvements they’d like to see.

This is the first time county officials have conducted a needs assessment for public parks, Los Angeles County Parks Regional Operations Manager Mika Yamamoto told the audience of several dozen people at the Burton Chace Park Community Meeting Room.

“We realize that there is a need for more recreation space, and that’s why we’re here,” Yamamoto said.

The assessment of Marina del Rey’s park facilities will include Burton Chace Park on Mindanao Way, Yvonne Braithwaite Burke Park along Admiralty Way, Marina “Mother’s” Beach and a pocket park at Lincoln Boulevard and Fiji Way.

Marina residents who attended the meeting said they would like to see additional walking trails and new recreational opportunities for children.

“It might be nice to have a greenbelt and some walking trails for people to see and observe the beautiful nature that’s here. It would be nice to see a creative play structure for children … maybe something inspired, like a sculpture garden and fountains,” said Beth Holden-Garland, who lives in the Silver Strand.

Many other suggestions — specifically ideas for programming — didn’t fit the county’s definition of a park project.

County park planner Sheila Mathai told participants that their suggestions should involve repairing an existing park amenity, adding or replacing an amenity, or constructing a new park.

“It doesn’t include programing. So if you want a Zumba or yoga class, that is a great idea but this effort is only related to park infrastructure,” Mathai explained.

County parks planner Michelle O’Connor noted that Marina del Rey does not have a public skate park, basketball courts, tennis courts, swimming pool or any soccer fields. Such facilities exist nearby in Venice, Playa Vista and Westchester.

The Department of Beaches and Harbors is currently planning improvements to the picnic area, pavilion and the promenade at Mother’s Beach, the Marina del Rey Boathouse in Burton Chace Park and to the exercise stations along the bike path at Yvonne Braithwaite Burke Park.

Several of those in attendance took the opportunity to air past grievances about development projects and questioned the county’s commitment to creating new amenities.

One woman who did not identify herself suggested building a public park at Tahiti Way and Via Marina, where a hotel project and adjacent wetland park is planned. That project is currently under appeal to the California Coastal Commission.

Yamamoto cautioned the audience that their suggestions for new amenities were contingent on both the county’s ability to fund them and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ willingness to approve them.

“I can’t commit to saying that all of your suggestions will be completed, but this starts a conversation for us as an organization,” she said.