(May 12, 2005) -- Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal has announced that starting Sunday May 15, "14th St. Park" will be closed at dusk as part of a pilot program to increase community safety.
Although the skate park will remain open until 10:00 p.m. for skating activities only, the rest of the park will be closed to all public use at dusk. Councilwoman Lowenthal's office said this will be a temporary closure...and its success will be evaluated after one year.
"Closing the park at dusk is just one of the strategies to be employed in the neighborhood to fight crime and make the park safe for families in the neighborhood," Concilwoman Lowenthal said in a written release.
"14th St. Park" is actually a wide street median between Chestnut and Locust Aves. (near the site of the vanished Seaside Hospital) on which LB Parks & Rec has installed playground equipment in fenced areas. Councilwoman Lowenthal's office said in its release:
"Other amenities coming to the park include more lighting, a fenced area for soccer play, and a pinata pole for celebrations."
The Councilwoman's announcement drew a tempered response from Better Balance for Long Beach, a group of activists who began holding neighborhood picnics in the park late last year while accusing City Hall of letting nuisance and law-flouting activities go unabated on the city-owned property.
Reached for comment on Councilwoman Lowenthal's announcement, Better Balance co-organizer Jane Kelleher said, "We're happy for any participation that will help reclaim the neighborhood."
Another Better Balance co-organizer, south Wrigley resident Annie Greenfeld-Wisner, said, "It's long overdue but we're glad action is being taken. Better Balance is proud to have applied pressure on this and we won't stop."
Councilwoman Lowenthal said in her release that after her election, the City's Dept. of Parks & Rec "added playground equipment, the skate park, basketball court, recreation staff, and regular patrol by park rangers. The playground area is also formally identified as a 'Kid Safe Zone' so that police can protect children in the area."
The release added that "between June 20th through August 26th, a Summer Fun Day Program "will offer arts and crafts, games, tournaments, outdoor activities, theme weeks and youth sports from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There will also be a Summer Food Program for children 18 years and younger from June 20th through August 19th at the park. On weekends, recreation staff will be available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m."