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Residents Rally, March to City Hall to Protest Plummer Park Closure

About 100 people turn out for 'Occupy Plummer Park' rally, followed by a march to City Hall. Participants are angry about the planned two-year closure of the park for a $41-million renovation.

The gained considerable momentum Sunday with a rally in the park followed by a march to City Hall, protesting the upcoming two-year closure of the park for a .

About 100 people showed up for although it had nothing to do with camping out in the park. This Occupy event was intended to be a picnic, but rain early Sunday morning left the ground too wet to sit down.

Young, old, gay, straight, male, female, Russian-speakers and English-speakers all turned out for the 1 1/2-hour rally. Passing a bullhorn around, many residents talked about their love of the park, what an important role the park plays in their lives, how much their children enjoy playing there and how a two-year closure will greatly impact their lives.

“Save Our Park, Save Our Trees,” was the rallying cry as a group of about 35 then marched a mile away to City Hall, carrying protest signs in English and in Russian.

Cars honked as they drove by, while onlookers cheered. Organizers played a continuous loop of the Joni Mitchell lyrics, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone. They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”

“This is what democracy looks like,” commented resident Shawn Thompson, pleased with residents’ responses.

Rally organizers Stephanie Harker and Cathy Blaivas were happy so many people turned out.

“We hope the City Council will listen to us and stop this plan for the park,” said Harker. “They keep saying they’re doing this for us, but they’re doing this to us, because we don’t want it.”

Resident Rudolf Martin was also pleased with the turnout. “This crowd is getting bigger and bigger,” said Martin, who has lived near the park for 10 years. “The opposition to the underground parking is growing, so I’m really happy to see this.”

$10 million underground parking garage

The majority of Plummer Park is scheduled to close in February while construction crews dig a $10-million, 179-space underground parking garage in the center of the park.

In the process of digging that garage, most of the trees in the park will be removed and the Great Hall, the Long Hall and the Tiny Tots preschool building will all be demolished. Additionally, Fiesta Hall will get a complete makeover to become a state-of-the-art performance center.

City Councilman John D’Amico was the only council member present, although he did not speak at the rally. He told Patch he felt it was important for him to be there.

As for the absence of the other council members, D’Amico said, “That doesn’t mean I’m the only one who’s listening. My colleagues are really checked into what’s going on here.”

Meanwhile, D’Amico’s appointee to the Planning Commission, Lauren Meister, was also on hand. Meister was the only other city official to attend.

“What the community is saying is the city can do a lot with the park without destroying it and for a lot less than $40 million,” Meister told Patch. “They want restoration and reuse, not demolition.”

Residents angry

Vista Street resident Anson Snyder carried three different protest signs on the march to City Hall. “City Council and City Hall are completely disconnected with the community here on the eastside,” Snyder said. “The proposed plan for Plummer Park has nothing to do with our community. It’s all about the city’s business interests.”

Resident Boris Dralyuk has been trying to spread the word to other Russian speakers who haven’t yet heard about the closure. He, like others, is upset about the closure.

“I visit the park on an almost daily basis,” said Dralyuk, who grew up playing in the park. “To think that it would be locked off from the elderly, from the children, from our past and our future for two years, it’s unthinkable to me.”

TV crews from all the local TV stations were on hand to cover the rally and march.

Meanwhile, the city is attempting to do some PR damage control via fliers throughout the park and emails sent to residents. Those fliers and emails announce, among other points, that it was never the city’s intention to close the entire park. They say the tennis courts and north parking lot, as well as the Community Center and adjacent area, will remain open throughout the renovations.

The Protect Plummer Park advocates plan to be at Monday night’s City Council meeting in large numbers to continue speaking out against the park closure.

“We’ve got to keep showing up and protesting,” said Blaivas. “That seems to be the only way to get the city to listen to us.”

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Stephanie November 07, 2011 at 07:19 PM
THANKS, James.
Anita Tolbert November 07, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Thank goodness for Stephanie, Cathy, and everyone who is a part of the Protect Plummer Park movement. There are many of us who are in complete support of the cause. As Ms. Meister so clearly pointed out, it's all about restoration and reuse. If the rest of the city officials could get with this straight forward concept and save some money in the process, we'd all come out ahead.
Pat November 07, 2011 at 08:35 PM
City Councilman John D’Amico was the only council member present. Was John there? Didn't see him.
joninla November 08, 2011 at 12:18 AM
"City Councilman John D’Amico was the only council member present, although he did not speak at the rally." The presence of a Council Member but not commenting or speaking at the Rally SAYS MORE than had he tried to pull out the new Fake P.R. story that the plans were never to close the park (yadda, yadda, yadda). There has to be ACCOUNTABILITY for the actions the City Council takes. We, the residents of West Hollywood, have been 'used' by the long term power mongers on the Council. They 'talk good' about issues that 'sound good' (banning fur - sounds good, but there is minimal impact for the Residents on that issue, but MASSIVE impact from the $40 Million Dollar Park Parking Project). Rather than focusing on banning fur, the focus should FIRST BE a ban on the continued "Anti-Residents" agenda of the City Council and require the council to be accountable to the people who live and vote in the City and have the right to have their representation in local government be what the Elected Members based their Campaigns on and NOT what is going on right before our own eyes. The lack of direct response to concerned Residents, the condescending and trite statements made off the public records, and the resulting pattern of whatever serious concerns the local residents tried to have addressed through the official procedural process - HAVE ALL GONE THOUGH ANYWAY (with a few trivial changes in response to major objections).
joninla November 08, 2011 at 12:34 AM
One more point. To have an historically apathetic city residents actually turn out in such large numbers begs to ask ..... WHO AND WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH THE PROTESTORS? This is not about two different 'residents personal interests' - conflicting over a major project (in size, effect and cost). We are a small city with more 'community' like atmosphere than most of the rest of of greater Los Angeles, yet now we are having to make protests against a project that NOBODY was asking for or wanting. Why should we have to 'fight the City Council'? - Is not the purpose of local government to represent and address the needs and protect from harm the interests of the Residents of the City ABOVE ALL ELSE. I hope this unwanted and financially ludicrous Destruction of a much loved park and the construction 69 additional parking places for $40 will be stopped AND HOPEFULLY WILL CONTINUE - To begin a 'cleaning house' of our city, beginning with the City Council, to turn OUR CITY into a place that reflects the residents best interests and not the Developers and Builders of Parking Structures who have 'bought our city' through the City Council.

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