Less than 15 individuals, two of whom represented the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, attended an open community forum Tuesday, June 10th to provide public input on new recreational programs at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey and the new Dockweiler Youth Center in Playa del Rey.
Beaches and Harbors recreational services manager Jose Mata and Burton Chace Park recreational supervisor Angelica Gunderson chaired the public forum, asking for an exchange of ideas and opinions regarding new programs and activities for the recreational facilities.
Two surveys, one for Burton Chace Park and the other for Dockweiler Youth Center were handed out, to be completed and returned to Beaches and Harbors staff.
The Burton Chace Park survey consisted of ten questions and a comment section. The questions covered a variety of potential activities, asking if people would attend if these activities were offered at the park.
Potential activities on the survey included a ballroom dance class; a yoga class; joining a book club; attending seminars in the community room; joining a walking club; and playing bingo.
Other questions included: would you like to see new activities offered at the park?; have you been coming to the park for a long time?; and would you recommend the park to your friends and family?
Mata said the recommendations on the surveys were a result of brainstorming, but the meeting was held to receive feedback from the public as to what types of activities they wanted.
For the Dockweiler facility’s programs and activities, Mata said he was seeking recommendations for a practical schedule that would work for everyone.
The Dockweiler Youth Center
is still under construction and is expected to open in October. The center will offer the WATER (water awareness, training, education and recreation) program for youths, but will also serve adults and offer public meeting accommodations. Parking for approximately 250 vehicles will be available.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM FORUM PARTICIPANTS—
Meeting participants offered numerous suggestions for activities that were recommended including: educational sea and wildlife programs; honoring the cultural history of the area (suggestion that the Marina Historical Society could participate in this venture); watercolor/paint classes; an open microphone night for poetry readings or sharing of information; activities for seniors such as a walking group; seminars on specific subjects; a lecturer/guest speaker series; a history of how Marina del Rey was built; and continuing concerts in a peaceful area.
Mata said the county currently offers a bird watching program.
He added that a “movie night” would be instituted this month, but one speaker said that activity was too “sedentary” and the noise might be too disruptive to the birds, creating more encroachment on wildlife habitat. Mata explained that, at this time, the young birds are no longer nesting.
Other suggestions included cycling, bike paths, kayaking, soccer, a fishing platform for youths; pedal boats; dinghies, senior tai chi or balance classes; and knitting or sewing for seniors that could be shared with young people.
One attendee who is a leader of a Girl Scout troop in Westchester said trying to find affordable classes for her group for activities such as kayaking is almost impossible, and another attendee suggested a Girl Scout jamboree at the park. Since overnight stays at the park are not available, Mata said he would check with his supervisor to find out if that idea was possible.
One speaker said that county residents own the park, which was supposed to be available as a recreational small boating area, not overdeveloped with residential developments. She said that parking lots are being taken away rather than used for low cost recreation and other activities.
There is no opportunity in the development system of what public land use should be for the park, she said.
“We should be asking what the recreational needs are for the influx of people in the future and not putting in another apartment building,” she said.
Mata replied that the county is moving in the direction of recreational activities and the intent is to serve the public.
More recommendations for activities were photography classes, having an available dance floor; using the former Benihana restaurant building for an art gallery or a museum; involving teenagers by using empty parking lots for a temporary basketball site; shuffleboard and board games.
An attendee said she would be much more likely to attend these types of classes and events at Burton Chace Park than to go to the new Dockweiler Youth Center.
An art fair was recommended because of the large pool of talented artists in the local area and a seminar on photo displays that would include local high schools and middle schools was also suggested.
The last attendee to comment commended the county on its junior lifeguard program. He said that the original Marina del Rey charter called for a small boat recreation area, but that message has been lost on the masses. The Marina is “one-of-a-kind” and with shops and hotels being built, it could be lost completely, he said.
He recommended that Marina (Mothers) Beach be cleaned up and have a building similar to the casino at Catalina Island, but perhaps half or one-quarter the size, for dancing and other activities.
The man also suggested a photo contest, perhaps with a water theme, as well as pedal boats, dinghies, and electric boats for use in the harbor for those who are not comfortable on the ocean water.
Kayaks for kids, sailing and swimming activities at Mothers Beach were also suggestions by attendees.
Mata suggested creating a boating bulletin on the Beaches and Harbors Web site for people to get information on activities.
The survey for Dockweiler Youth Center requested information from participants on whether they had children and the age of the children; if times and dates for any of the suggested programs would be changed because of scheduling conflicts and recommendations for new times/ dates; any new activities/classes to be added to the list; would these activities be promoted elsewhere by the parent (church, school, youth center); and asked for additional comments/suggestions.
Survey suggestions for classes and activities for youths ages ten and older, teens, adults and families included:
— arts and crafts
(pedal boat assembly for racing, kite building and flying);
— finger painting, paper painting, canvas, origami;
— dare to dance
(Latin dance and hip hop);
— dodge ball;
— evening beach walk;
— fitness class;
— morning beach walk;
— shore fishing;
— s’mores under the stars during evening campfires and stories;
— yoga on the beach.
Copies of both surveys are available in the Community Building at Burton Chace Park and will be posted in the future at http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/.