(Dec. 3, 2004) -- LB Project Development Manager Amy Bodek has told LBReport.com that she met in Sacramento today (Dec. 3) with six officials from the CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation to discuss issues related to the Scherer Park PD station and 55th Way replacement park land.
Ms. Bodek said that from her perspective, the meeting was positive and allowed her to present documents (which she brought along in two large binders) and permitted her to respond to questions.
A high ranking agency official said after the meeting that Ms. Bodek had brought with her a good deal of information which the agency would now review...and the agency is pleased with the progress and cooperation it's received to this point.
Ms. Bodek says the materials she delivered were responsive to the agency's inquiry to LB City Hall, including materials such as the EIR and 2001 appraisal that City Hall had previously sent to Sacramento. She says she also brought with her updated information including site plans and photographs as well as items that the CA Dept. of Parks & Rec requested in a November 10 letter (previously reported by LBReport.com).
Ms. Bodek said the State Parks officials received the information, indicated there was much material to them to review and said they would do so.
Ms. Bodek also offered to provide monthly progress reports to the state agency with an invitation to come to LB for site visits if they wished to do so in the future.
"We had an open dialogue and I think it was clearly for the best," Ms. Bodek said.
Sedric Mitchel, Deputy Director for External Affairs for the CA Dept. of Parks & Recreation told LBReport.com via a Dept. spokesperson, "We're very appreciative that they came to meet with us and brought a good deal of information. We'll take some time to look through it but we're very pleased with the progress and cooperation to this point."
The meeting was prompted by a November 10, 2004 CA Dept. of Parks letter which questioned City Hall's record on multiple issues regarding Scherer Park land taken for a North LB police facility with replacement park land of double the size promised on 55th Way.
The Scherer Park issue became a state (and federal) matter because LB City Hall previously accepted federal funds for Scherer Park improvements. Under federal law, if parkland improved with federal tax money is subsequently used for other purposes, the grantee (in this case, City Hall) must replace the lost park land on a one-for-one basis and comply with federal requirements in doing so. The requirements are administered for the feds by the CA Department of Parks and Recreation.
Controversy over Scherer Park began several years ago after City Hall announced plans to take roughly 2.2 acres of Scherer Park land at Atlantic Ave. and Del Amo Blvd. and replace it with "new" park land elsewhere. Park protection advocates, including "Friends of Scherer Park" led by Gigi Fast Elk Bannister and Reggie Bannister, decried the plan, but a number of prominent LB neighborhood activists in the vicinity backed the Scherer Park site.
As approved by LB's Planning Commission and City Council, the use of the Scherer Park land included a requirement that one for one park land replacement be provided that has comparable characteristics and size, that it be located in the area that would allow for use by generally the same persons who use the existing park land that is being lost, and that the substitute park land shall be acquired and improvements funded prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy for the new police facility.
At present, the North LB Police Facility is operating on the Scherer Park site under a temporary (apparently renewable) certificate of occupancy. A grand opening ceremony for the new facility, which had been slated for late October, was apparently put off.
City Hall staff has announced plans to replace the 2.2 acres of Scherer Park land on a more than a "two for one" basis...with 5.83 gross acres at a currently abandoned industrial site on 55th Way. The two for one pledge was cited repeatedly during the Council debate on the Scherer Park plan...which was approved on an 8-1 vote.
The Bannisters filed suit via Friends of Scherer Park (which they founded) along with CA Earth Corps to halt the taking of the Scherer Park land, citing CEQA and other grounds. A lower court and Court of Appeal both sided with City Hall.
Related previous coverage
CA Dept. of Parks & Rec Letter Questions City Hall Record On Multiple Issues Re Scherer Park, Seeks Documents & Explanations; We Post Agency's Letter; LB City Mgt. Says It Has Answers & Will Meet w/ CA Dept. Parks & Rec Officials in Sac'to On Dec. 3, Views Meeting As Opportunity To Resolve Misunderstandings