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A coalition of Santa Monica residents and groups hopes Santa Monica Airport’s future is the same as Meigs Field Airport in Chicago. This single strip airport operated from December 1948 until March 2003 until it was closed and a park created after the Chicago Park District refused to renew the airport lease.
Images courtesy of airport2park.org
A coalition of Santa Monica residents and groups hopes Santa Monica Airport’s future is the same as Meigs Field Airport in Chicago. This single strip airport operated from December 1948 until March 2003 until it was closed and a park created after the Chicago Park District refused to renew the airport lease.

News, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Airport

New Airport Coalition To Host Workshop, Seeks Green Space Conversion At SMO

Posted Sep. 6, 2013, 9:14 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

The year 2015 is inching closer with each passing day. As July 1, 2015, approaches, the debate and discussion about the future of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) will likely intensify, as certain agreements with the federal government are set to expire.

A coalition of residents and groups – Airport2Park.org – hopes to steer the SMO debate and discussion toward building a “great park” on the airport grounds, expanding upon the sports fields and park area already on portions of the premises.

To that end, the coalition is hitting the ground running and hosting a community workshop next month “to envision what the park could be.”

Entitled “From Airport to Park: Turning Santa Monica Airport into a Park for Everyone,” the workshop takes place Oct. 3 from 6 pm to 9 pm at Mount Olive Church, 1343 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica.

“Airport2Park.org is a coalition uniting residents who want to seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a great park in place of the Santa Monica Airport,” John Fairweather, Chair of Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT), said in a statement.

According to the coalition’s website, the new group was inspired “from parks around the U.S. and world that were transformed from airports, old railways, and more.”

The coalition lists eight parks converted airports, railways, or other transit facilities, including Cornfields Park just outside downtown Los Angeles, Stapleton Park in Denver, Colo., Northerly Park in Chicago, and the Great Park in Orange County, Calif., among others.

Cornfields Park, for example, was formerly the Southern Pacific Transportation Company’s River Station. The public open space is formally dubbed Los Angeles State Historic Park and is nestled between Chinatown and Elysian Park.

Stapleton Park is 80-acres in size and the third largest public park in Denver. The park was built on the site of the old Stapleton International Airport, which was the City’s primary airport until it shut down in 1995.

The Great Park in Orange County is still being built in El Toro, where a military airbase once existed.

In Chicago, Northerly Park was built atop the old Meigs Field, a single-strip airport shut down in 2003 and is now a lakefront open space.

Other transit hubs converted into public parks referenced on the Airport2Park.org site include Floyd Bennett Park in New York City, Tempelhofer Park in Berlin, Bulltofta Park in Sweden, and Edmonton Park in Edmonton, Canada.

The coalition boasts if a “great park” was realized at SMO, it could be one-third the size of New York’s Central Park.

“Santa Monica Great Park could be well over twice the size of all other Santa Monica parks combined,” the website reads.

According to the coalition, converting SMO into a public park would be the preferred course of action.

“Surveys have shown that the public overwhelmingly favors turning Santa Monica Airport into a park,” the coalition stated.

The coalition envisioned how the park could be used, if realized. For example, the park itself would feature trails, playgrounds, gardens, quiet places, and facilities for walking, hiking, jogging, and cycling.

As for SMO’s buildings on Airport Avenue, the coalition hopes they “could become arts and cultural facilities.”

“Buildings north of the runway now used for aircraft operations could become space for tech, environmental, and other business incubators; the rents to the city for these uses can support park operations,” the coalition continued in its statement. “A park will also allow for improvement of north-south street connections to improve traffic circulation.”

Speakers at the Oct. 3 workshop are expected to talk about how other airports in the United States and other countries were converted into parks.

Three groups make up the coalition that is Airport2Park.org, including Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc.

More information can be found at www.airport2park.org.

The Mirror will continue coverage of this issue in coming weeks and present opinions of those who seek to keep SMO open or seek other uses of the airport should its operation be limited or shut down completely.

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Comments

Sep. 7, 2013, 3:48:20 pm

R Templeton said...

Don't let the City Council get at it lest they hand it over to a mega-developer for a wall of high rise "mixed use" hotel/offices with a bike path

Sep. 7, 2013, 9:33:35 pm

Denise Bachman said...

Yes yes yes!!!! This is what we need to do with the airport. There really is no park worth the designation in the west side, a Central Park or Golden Gate Park type facility is what we need here! Please, let's make it happen!! And horses! Let's have horses and a farm to make it a true urban oasis, a beacon of possibility for all to be inspired by!

Sep. 7, 2013, 10:21:16 pm

kj said...

Rather than building park , we should expand the golf course to create a safety zone for the runway. In addition we should offer aviation courses at santa monica high school and college so young people can be trained for jobs in the future. Aviation is booming. There is huge shortage of pilots. We can train young people from our community right at santa monica airport so they get high paying jobs in future.

Sep. 8, 2013, 8:20:57 pm

A local said...

Oh my god, the real estate developers propaganda machine are out in full force! Does anyone believe this premium land will be turned into a park? Yeah and you believe in unicorns too, right? Closing Meigs in Chicago was literally a criminal act performed by then-mayor Daley. He will go down in history as a criminal. So that's the role model here? It sickens me how much misinformation is spread about SMO. All I can say is be careful what you ask for, people. You may find there are worse monsters moving into your neighborhood than a couple of light planes!

Sep. 8, 2013, 8:26:38 pm

Norm Cox said...

Next big earthquake you'll be crying for a runway nearby and there won't be one. How do you suppose first responder aircraft and supplies will get into the west side, a parachute? LAX will be a nightmare and Van Nuys in the valley is the next closest runway. The roads will be impassable with traffic and the lights will be out. A local runway is the only way the west side will have a chance of survival. See past the end of your nose and think about your family dying because no one could get there to help save you when the big one DOES happen.

Sep. 8, 2013, 8:30:17 pm

Natalie Harris said...

The airport won't close. All those jets are owned by the wealthy elite of Santa Monica and huge corporations. They never lose a fight because they have the lawyers and the judges on their side. In the end the city council will be bought off and it will be business as usual at the airport. In America, money always wins.

Sep. 9, 2013, 12:01:03 pm

Truth said...

All of these anti-airport organizations remind me of the Tea Party. They claim to have YOUR best interests at heart but dig a little deeper into who they are. You'll find a lot of them are "astro turf" organizations with members affiliated with large real estate development firms. Many of them don't actually live in Santa Monica or near the airport. They are bullies trying to force an agenda that is not pretty parks and recreation areas. It's about taking valuable land away and converting it into profit. Show me one example of the Santa Monica city council doing right by the people and not following the real estate money. That's why you see nothing but construction of high rises and roads being beefed up for more traffic. Get ready for the airport area next. They're coming to blot out the sun with condos and Starbucks right where the airport sits. You can't stop the machine unless you wake up to the truth!

Sep. 9, 2013, 12:05:42 pm

Brian Tucker said...

There is already Clover Park and the newer Airport Park donated by the airport itself. They're not going to build yet another park there. Think of how much money stands to be made off selling that land off to development. Do you think Santa Monica is going to turn down millions and millions of dollars in revenue so that a few neighbors can have a park! Sheesh don't kid yourselves people.

Sep. 9, 2013, 2:37:25 pm

mark Smith said...

http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/19147426-418/10-years-later-the-nighttime-raid-that-destroyed-meigs-field.html

Sep. 9, 2013, 2:40:22 pm

Mark Smith said...

And the photo of Meigs is photoshopped GREEN. The airport is not a functional park, sees little use and is only partially green after a summer rain.

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