(Sept. 28, 2002) -- Cooperative efforts by park supporters, city staff, elected officials and a helpful corporation culminated in the creation of a new pocket park at Orange Ave. and San Antonio Dr. in the 8th Council district.
The park sprang from a lot once occupied by a gas station as enthusiastic supporters ignored an early morning drizzle to bring the project to fruition.
Within hours, a .3 acre park was taking shape as part of National Public Lands Day through the efforts of 8th district Councilman Rob Webb, LB's Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Marine, Toyoto Motor Sales (from Torrance) and TABC (from NLB). Some of the plant materials were propagated by the LB City College Horticulture Club.
Councilman Webb told LBReport.com, "When I got elected, we met with the community and wanted to take some vacant lots and turn them into something more appealing...[Use of the lot is thanks to] a private property owner, he's a great guy, the city leased it [from him], the lease is like a dollar a year, the city assumes maintenance and liability basically. The funds provided were some discretionary funds from my office...I mean last night this was a vacant lot, so this is really cool." Councilman Webb noted that the three rail fence surrounding the park adds a country look, an idea started in NLB by former 9th district Councilman Jerry Shultz.
6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson-Batts also attended in support of Councilman Webb and the community's efforts.
LB Parks, Recreation & Marine Director Phil Hester watches as the lot becomes a park.
TABC Community Affairs Coordinator Patricia Murphy points with pride to two groups from Toyota lending a hand: one from Toyota Motor Sales (Toyota's sales and marketing wing from Torrance) and TABC (part of the Toyota's manufacturing wing, from NLB). "We've done this project for the third year now, part of National Public Lands Day. And it's around the whole United States, Toyota is a major sponsor it. There's 27 sites all around the United States that Toyota's been involved in today...in Southern California, we're doing four...This [LB] project works out perfectly because it's something we can create."
Councilman Webb with beaming Kathy Alford, co-owner of the firm of Schmidt and Alford, a LB business that handles landscapes and gardens. Ms. Alford told LBReport.com that she and co-owner Phyllis Schmidt are both ex-teachers, and the six month old firm is a second career for them. "I've lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and I know the corner real well...It's my neighborhood, so that's what really drew me to it, not just because I do it for a business, but because it's my neighborhood, and it was a great idea." Ms. Alford points with pride to the fact that the plants selected are "all California natives, all drought resistant...It'll survive on its own next summer, maybe need a once a month watering."
Schmidt and Alford's other co-owner, Ms. Schmidt.
Making sure things run smoothly, 8th district Council aide Jerry Caligiuri, with cell phone glued to his ear.
Workers put park benches in place with the help of a crane.
Also attending were the President and Vice President of Friends of Scherer Park, Gigi Fast Elk Bannister and Reggie Bannister (not shown, they attended earlier).
Ms. Bannister later told LBReport.com, "I'm very proud of LB Parks & Rec and their staff, and Jerry Caligiuri from Councilman Webb's office, and Toyota for coming together and doing this for our community. I know there are more pocket parks in line for the community and we're eager for them to come about."
She said LB Parks, Recreation and Marine is working with Friends of Scherer Park on a number of improvements at Scherer Park.
Ms. Bannister added, "I challenge other corporations to step up to the plate the way Toyota did to build and preserve our parks."
This marks the fourth consecutive years in which Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc. is the National sponsor of National Public Lands Day. Over 1,700 Toyota employees, families and friends are expected to participate in restoration efforts at 25 sites nationwide.
National Public Lands Day, coordinated by the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF), began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. The NEETF, chartered by Congress in 1990, focuses on environmental learning as a solution to challenges in natural resources management, education, health care and business. In its mission to support environmental education, NEETF initiates programs and partnerships that result in an environmentally knowledgeable public, competent professionals and environmentally capable leaders and policy-makers.