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A rendering of the new park to be constructed along Exposition Boulevard at Stewart Street, adjacent to the Expo Maintenance Facility.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A rendering of the new park to be constructed along Exposition Boulevard at Stewart Street, adjacent to the Expo Maintenance Facility.

News, Parks, Santa Monica

Santa Monica's New Buffer Park Design Receives Green Light

Posted Apr. 28, 2014, 9:22 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

A new park is coming to Santa Monica, as the City Council approved last Tuesday slightly altered design plans for Buffer Park. The unanimous vote also directed City staff to move forward with construction documents.

Though the name “Buffer Park” is a work in progress and a new, more permanent moniker will likely be in play by the time the open space is operational, the council’s vote opens the door for the Pico neighborhood to receive a recreational area some stated the area long deserved.

Once built, the new 2.35-acre park would exist facing a residential neighborhood along Exposition Boulevard at Stewart Street and adjacent to the new Expo Maintenance Facility.

According to the report to council members by City staff, Buffer Park will reflect the community desire for continuity interwoven with discrete areas reflecting cultural diversity.

“This approach is captured in the concept of a ‘park in rooms,’” City staff stated in its report. “These small garden “rooms” highlight a specific activity and experience with its own identity yet integrated with the whole park. Visitors could decide to experience only one room and enjoy the park in a smaller, more intimate way or walk through the entire park and each of the rooms to explore more diverse experiences.”

Perhaps the only blemish in the design plans, according to school board member and Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) co-chair Oscar de la Torre is a place for visitors to barbeque.

“We do want to have space for people to sit and have a barbeque,” de la Torre told the council, adding the methane in the ground at Stewart Park prevents visitors there from recreationally grilling food. “That’s the only element that’s missing.”

De la Torre said otherwise the PNA liked the park’s design plans.

The council directed staff to look into how to incorporate de la Torre’s suggestion for a barbeque space into the park’s design plans.

“This is the Pico neighborhood’s park,” Council member Kevin McKeown said, adding the area needs an open space like this one to balance the existence of Metro’s light rail maintenance yard at Exposition and Stewart in the Pico neighborhood.

The maintenance yard came attached with the Expo Line.

“It took quite a bit of wheeling-and-dealing and land-swapping to put together this parcel so that we could construct this park for the Pico neighborhood,” McKeown continued. “I’ve helped in the design and construction of quite a few parks in my time on the City Council. Never have I helped in the design and construction of one that I felt was owed so specifically to the people who live very near it.”

McKeown said the City had no say in having the maintenance yard being placed in the Pico neighborhood, but this park would go a long way in giving something back to that community.

“You’ve had a lot of stuff dumped on you over the years. It’s about time you get something back,” McKeown said. “I hope it’s more than a buffer. I hope it’s a neighborhood center. I hope it’s a place everyone enjoys.”

The park’s design plans call for eight elements within Buffer Park: the Grove, a dense tree grove; Watershed Garden, where storm water runoff would be collected and treated; Bird Garden, a habitat friendly to the region’s bird species; the Meadow, an open space area ideal for recreational sports or picnicking; Community Pavilions providing flexible spaces for gatherings; Rock Garden, a play area with “naturalistic” play elements; Learning Garden, complete with fruit trees and raised garden plots; and, the Forest, a complement to the Grove on the opposite end of the park.

Construction documents are expected to be ready by October, with the council awarding a contract to build Buffer Park by March 2015.

If all goes as planned, construction of Buffer Park will start in April 2015, when the Expo Maintenance Facility is expected to be complete.

Mia Lehrer + Assoc. provided the design services for Buffer Park.

Council member Bob Holbrook was not present at the April 22 council meeting.

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Comments

Apr. 28, 2014, 1:04:10 pm

wolflen said...

buffer park..really...how bout Pico Neighborhood Park...or Pico Park.... buffer park...come on..

Apr. 28, 2014, 6:31:31 pm

John said...

A park for Pico? Pico has a neighborhood park...it's Virginia park. This park is barely in Pico and nowhere near the dense residential areas of Pico. Will mostly be used by new residents of the Bergamot area and those living in the adjacent areas of mid-city.

Apr. 29, 2014, 10:09:41 am

NORMA LOPEZ said...

Well it's nice to see how everyone in this article points out how nice this will be for the community. How about the residents who live next to this park-? Did any one ever bother to ask us the residents who live next to the park, if we are really happy about this park ? This park is only going to create more problems for the residents who live on this block. As is parking is always a issue on this block the residents are paying for preferential parking which for the most part is not enforced and most are paying for preferential parking seems to defeat the purpose when everyone else from the surrounding companies parks on our block. I think adding a barbecue only adds risk for fires to our residential block. Stop and really take in to account what the residents on this block would like to see !!! The city of Santa Monica just keeps ignoring this small community of residents.

Apr. 29, 2014, 10:17:47 am

Kevin McKeown said...

From the sound of this article, sounds like Kevin McKeown would like to see it named McKeown Park. Thanks so so so so much, Mr McKeown, for showing up and doing your job. Blathering political posturing.

Apr. 30, 2014, 4:12:20 pm

Oscar de la Torre said...

It took months of advocacy on the part of Pico Neighborhood residents and youth leaders to win this park for the residents. Without our advocacy the maintenance yard would have been built closer to residents with no "buffer". The noise and light pollution from the maintenance yard would have had a more detrimental impact on residents without the park. We all support light rail but we need to recognize that historically one part of our City shoulders the majority of the burdens for the transportation plans of the region. The park, with all of its faults, is an example of a give back to the community and we should all be thankful for those that fought to make this happen.

May. 1, 2014, 8:54:19 am

NORMA said...

Mr. De La Torre, Yes I admit having a park versus the maintenance yard is preferable no doubt about it. I thank all of you for that. Unfortunately there are many issues that are still a huge problem on this specific block which many of the residents like myself feel were left unresolved. We wanted only preferential parking solely for the residents instead the city implemented a two hour limit. This is not working out we have many who are not residents parking on this block rather employees from the surounding companies who are parking there. I for one come home from work like many other residents and can't find a parking spot. Now the other major concern among the residents with this park is the homeless folks, they are already camping out. As of lately we have a considerable amount of them walking our streets many who have set home between the bushes on what was the verizon grounds and out and around the old SMC parking lot. And it concerns us that we not have proper surveillance. I just think when many of the community meetings were taking place the parking problem was never really resolved and not much thought was put into that specific issue for the residents. when the park opens and others come to visit some might walk and others will drive and decide to park on our block. All I ask is that someone possibly take a closer look at what Exposition Blvd looks like especially on high peak hours Mon-Fri 8-5p.m. We need a better resolution to this problem. And more surveillance. Your efforts are greatly appreciated, but I really firmly believe more needs to be done to resolve this problem before it gets to be a bigger one down the line once the park opens.

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