The Plummer Park controversy had several new developments this week. Mayor John Duran apologized for earlier comments he made about , the East Side Project Advisory Committee said it wants a say in the parks' redesign, and the city released a new information packet about the $41 million plan.
During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Duran issued an apology for comments he made two weeks ago about the park.
At the Nov. 21 City Council meeting opposed to the planned renovations of Plummer Park. Duran advised that rather than complaining about the redesign, people should be grateful that the city has the money to do capital improvements at a time when so many other cities are having severe budget shortages.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Duran clarified those comments.
“I was not intending for anybody to believe that I was calling you ungrateful,” Duran said. “My comment was drafted that we all as a community should be grateful for the fact that we are not struggling today. That was the intent of my comment, not to offend. And I apologize.”
Duran went on to say he was glad the city was having discussions about how to handle the Plummer Park redesign and that everyone’s opinion will be heard before the Council votes on any new plan for the park.
After the meeting, resident Stephanie Harker, who spearheaded the Protect Plummer Park movement to oppose the park renovations, said she was surprised Duran apologized.
“I’m shocked by Duran’s apology,” Harker told Weho Patch, “but very grateful he made it. It shows he’s beginning to understand.”
D’Amico weighs in too
Councilman John D’Amico also addressed the Plummer Park situation during his opening comments, saying he was happy that the entire community was engaged in the discussion.
“It’s been a little bit of fits and starts, but the conversation is on,” D’Amico said. “Though we have not agendized this item, we all hear you and see you, and acknowledge that this is part of the conversation about how we make cities.”
D’Amico said he was confident that City Manager Paul Arevalo would bring the best alternatives for the park to the council. He also assured that council members were paying attention to the Plummer Park protests.
With those comments, D’Amico became the third of the five council members to address the Plummer Park controversy during a council meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Prang was the first to address it. At the Nov. 7 council meeting, Prang said he believed the project as adopted on several points. He promised that the council would reevaluate the project, saying he had “never witnessed another event with such strenuous objections to the plans.”
Council members John Heilman and Abbe Land have not yet spoken publicly about the park controversy.
East Side PAC wants a say
Plummer Park was a point of prolonged discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting. The project advisory committee voted unanimously to request the opportunity to review and make comments on the park redesign when it comes back.
This was the first East Side PAC meeting since August, so it was the first chance members had to voice their opinions since the
Members were concerned about 75 percent of the park being closed for almost two years while underground parking is built. They did not like seeing the 100-year-old trees removed from the park or the WPA-era conjoined Great Hall/Long Hall demolished as a result of that dig.
They also did not not like the futuristic façade planned for Fiesta Hall, and strongly objected to plans that call for toddlers to play on the roof of a new Tiny Tots pre-school building when the school sits in the middle of a park.
East Side members said they did not recall giving their stamp of approval to the park design. Housing Director Allyne Winderman, who serves as the staff contact person for the PAC, said the advisory committee had been issued a copy of the plan to “receive and file.”
PAC members then asked why they were not allowed to have input into the park plans since it is something that should come under their purview. Winderman replied that “government is complicated” and there was not time for every board or commission to have input.
“For everybody to review everything to the enth detail just doesn’t work,” Winderman said, explaining that a large Plummer Park Redesign Committee was put together consisting of PAC members, various commission members and other residents who use the park.
She said some boards and commissions had input on certain aspects of the plan, but only the Plummer Park Redesign Committee and the City Council had a vote on the entire project.
“That was the route that has had the most say so and input into the design, and that’s just the way it went,” Winderman said. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Winderman assured that the Council is hearing people’s objections and are reviewing other options for the park redesign.
PAC member Yola Dore, who served on the park redesign committee, said the East Side advisory committee was never asked for input. She said she was not happy with many aspects of the redesign, but had no one to back her up when she objected.
“[PAC members] were not ever out of sight or out of mind,” Dore said. “I did my best to represent your interests.”
With that information, the PAC then unanimously voted to have the chance to offer input.
Later, Harker told Patch she was pleased the PAC requested the review.
“This is the first time we’re heard [the PAC] had no input either,” Harker said. “We were lead to believe they were very involved in the redesign. It’s good they’ll get a chance to make comments this time.”
New Plummer Park info packet
The city stepped up its PR campaign about the park with the debut of a new eight-page information packet titled, “Commonly Asked Questions about the Implementation of Phase I of the Plummer Park Master Plan.”
That document is printed in English on glossy 24-pound paper. There is also a Russian-language version of it, however it is printed on standard 20-pound paper.
The info packet was part of a collection of papers available at the new information table about Plummer Park, which was set up in the lobby at Monday’s City Council meeting. That table is scheduled to be set up at all future City Council meetings, at least until the Plummer Park controversy is settled.
Staff Senior Administrative Analyst Helen Collins, who serves as a point person for the Plummer Park redesign, said several people had stopped at the table to ask questions and examine a map of the redesigned park. She said many people were picking up the eight-page information packet.
The info packet was not available at Tuesday night’s East Side PAC meeting.
The packet provides a cost breakdown of how the $41 million for the park redesign will be spent. It also provides background into the redesign planning process and emphasizes the portions of the park that will remain open during the two-year construction.
Some say the packet downplays the role the $10 million, 179-space underground parking garage has in forcing the two-year park closure and subsequent removal of trees and demolition of Great Hall/Long Hall.
“The entire project hinges on the underground parking,” Harker told Patch. “And it’s barely even mentioned in this eight-page sheet. Only three paragraphs about it. This is really misleading.”