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    Councilwoman Lowenthal Requests Update on 14th St. Park Master Plan

    (January 3, 2005, w/ Jan. 14 updated info) -- 1st district Councilman Bonnie Lowenthal has agendized an item for the January 4th City Council meeting, requesting a city management update within thirty days on progress of the Master Plan for Fourteenth Street Park, including anticipated next steps for gathering community input.

    In her agendizing memo, Councilwoman Lowenthal writes:

    In dense neighborhoods, residents come to depend on local parks for both passive and active recreation needs. Many residents live in housing with very little or no green space available for children to play or adults to enjoy.

    Fourteenth Street Park is a small neighborhood park that was once a passive park in the middle of the Washington School neighborhood, but it now has skateboard facilities; two playgrounds; basketball courts; Parks, Recreation and Marine staff assigned to it; Bikes 90800 Program; as well as Park Rangers to patrol the premises. There are plans in progress for further additions to Fourteenth Street Park.

    I am submitting a formal request for an update in 30 days from the City Manager on the progress of the Master Plan for Fourteenth Street Park, including anticipated next steps for gathering community input.

    I welcome my colleagues' support for this request.

    The item follows two neighborhood picnics organized in November and December 2004 by Better Balance for Long Beach, a group created by LB activists for the declared purpose of giving neighborhood residents a respite from nuisance activities and crime.

    The events drew the attention of several LB media outlets. In December, ran a news/perspective piece that included transcribed statements from area residents describing conditions -- roughly one mile north of LB Civic Center -- where City Hall fails to abate nuisance or illegal conduct on city-owned property.

    As we reported, "14th St. Park" is a street median between Magnolia and Pacific Aves. on which LB Parks & Rec has fenced some areas and installed playground equipment. City Hall includes it on its Parks & Rec web pages as "14th St. Playground" among LB parks...listing its operating hours as M-F from 2:30-4:30 p.m., closed Saturdays and Sundays.

    [Jan. 14/05 update: LB Parks & Recs advises that as of early January 2005, 14th St. Park's new supervised hours are Saturday: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday - Friday: 3 - 5 p.m.]

    At the November and December events, heard residents say parents and children witness visible drug dealing, sexual activity, and charitable food and utensils left as litter while some individuals hurl verbal assaults at children on their way to nearby Washington Middle School. Much of this takes place on or near the city-owned playground/street median, they said. also quoted some Better Balance organizers who, when asked by us, were critical of Councilwoman Lowenthal's record.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal attended the November event and told, "I have always worked closely with the neighborhood and I'm doing so now" and noted that westward beyond the street median, "the city recently obtained a grant that will bring the neighborhood a brand new park just down the street near Magnolia."

    She added, "I have zero tolerance for nuisance or illegal conduct here or anywhere in this city."

    Related coverage: News / Perspective: Awakening A Sleeping Giant: LB Activists Vow To Empower Nuisance & Crime-Impacted Neighborhood And Hold City Hall Accountable

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