Members of the Del Rey community say the U.S. Postal Service Marina Processing and Distribution Center property on Jef- ferson Boulevard north of Playa Vista presents a unique opportunity to develop park space in the community.

The Postal Service closed its Marina Processing and Distribution Center, 13031 Jefferson Blvd., Del Rey area, in mid-July to consolidate operations into the larger Los Angeles Processing Center, 7001 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles.

The Postal Service is keeping open its retail postal facility adjacent to Jefferson Boulevard and south of the closed mail processing center.

The Marina Center property covers approximately 20 acres.

Larry Dozier, Postal Service spokesman, said the vacated Marina Center facility is still being managed by the Postal Service operations division. Postal Service asset management division staff will soon determine whether to put the property up for sale, Dozier said.

“Chances are that it’s going to be sold,” Dozier said.

If the Postal Service decides to sell the Marina Center property, it would most likely be put on the market sometime this month, he said.

The Postal Service has received calls from various developers who are interested in purchasing the property, he said.

But members of the Del Rey community have also expressed interest in acquiring the 20-acre property to develop active open space for the community.

Del Rey residents said the property presents a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to develop needed recreational space for community youths and to alleviate the “overburdened and overscheduled” parks in communities such as Westchester and Culver City.

“This opportunity, if blown, would be tragic,” said Mark Redick, Del Rey Neighborhood Council vice president. “There is a real problem in Del Rey with a lack of open space.”

Glen Alla Park, at Glencoe Avenue and Alla Road adjacent to Villa Marina East, is currently the only park within the community, Redick said.

Chris Nevil, president of the Del Rey Homeowners and Neighbors Association first proposed the idea of acquiring the Postal Service property for active open space at a Neighborhood Council meeting in April.

Nevil said the community has an extreme scarcity of recreational facilities for youth sports such as soccer, baseball and softball.

“Athletics for kids is grotesquely underserved in this community,” Nevil said. “There is nowhere for kids to play.”

Some members of the community have formed the Del Rey Park Task Force, which oversees the effort to acquire the Marina Center property and enlist the support of local elected representatives.

The creation of playing fields for soccer and other sports would greatly expand recreational opportunities for area youths, according to the Del Rey Park task force Web site. The task force includes members of both the Neighborhood Council and the Homeowners and Neighbors Association.

Under the task force proposals, the majority of the site’s 20 acres would be dedicated recreation and park space. Land along the Ballona Creek could be used as passive open space for activities such as strolling and picnicking, the task force says.

The community is also proposing to construct a community center on the site for a location to hold community meetings.

Community members said the site’s proximity to bus routes and the Ballona Creek bike path would make the park easily accessible to many area residents.

“We’re looking to make a measurable difference that will still have an impact in 20 years,” Nevil said.

The Del Rey Neighborhood Council voted unanimously Tuesday, July 26th, to support the task force effort to develop active open space at the Marina Center site.

After having won the support of its own community, the Del Rey Park Task Force plans to visit other local Neighborhood Councils to seek additional support for the park, Nevil said.

Redick said the task force has also started a petition, which has already been signed by hundreds of area residents, saying they are in favor of creating a park on the 20-acre Marina Center site.

Del Rey community members have contacted several local elected officials, including 11th District Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, local Congresswomen Jane Harman and Maxine Waters, and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who have all expressed support for the effort, Redick said.

Dozier said the Postal Service has been contacted by Harman staff regarding Del Rey’s interest in acquiring the Marina Center site, but the Del Rey community will have to submit a request when the property is put on the market.

The Postal Service will broadly advertise the sale of the Marina Center property to allow all interested parties an opportunity to submit a bid for the purchase, he said.

“For those communities that would like to see a park, we’d like to see them submit a proposal when the property is presented to the public,” Dozier said. “We’re open to everyone who is interested and submits a proposal.”

Dozier said the Marina Center property received an appraisal of $35 million, but when the property is put up for sale it will “go for what the market will bear.”

The Del Rey Park Task Force hopes federal elected officials can arrange a low-cost lease of the property to the city, county or another entity to operate the proposed Del Rey Park, Redick said.

Funding for the property would need to come from the state and federal government through grants and special assessments such as municipal bonds, he said.

Redick said that if the community acquired the property, maintenance costs for the new park would be about $115,000 a year.

While the Del Rey community may not have much time left before the Marina Center property is sold, community members said they plan to continue seeking support for their effort and will not let the opportunity for a park slip by without a fight.

“We have an opportunity on this property to do something right for the community,” Redick said. “I think we have a solid shot.”