By Sue Pascoe
American Legion Post 283 has pledged $400,000 towards a project to renovate the picnic area and build three bocce courts at the Palisades Recreation Center.
If the project is approved by the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks and receives $200,000 in community donations, the renovated area will be called Veterans’ Garden. The targeted completion date is April 2018.
“The Veterans’ Gardens will become a place where the story of our veterans will be shared with the wider community—and friends and families will enjoy the opportunity to gather together in a beautiful outdoor setting,” said Post 283 Commander Jere Romano.
The legion has already donated $20,000 to the bocce/picnic area organizing committee to develop the final plans. Before the well-funded Post 283 transfers the remaining $380,000 to Your Palisades Park Improvement Corporation (YourPark Corporation), four conditions must be met:
1.) The YourPark Corporation raises $200,000 from the community; 2.) the name—The Veterans’ Gardens—has been approved by Post 283, the YourPark Corporation, the Park Advisory Board and Recreation and Parks; 3.) there are assurances that the name will not be changed for a minimum of 30 years; and 4.) the project is subject to final approval by Post 283.
Organizers expect that city staff will comment on the construction drawings this fall, and that final approval for the project will be given by the city by Oct. 11.
The targeted start date is Nov. 16, with the Tyler Development Corporation handling the construction. The projected opening date is April 4, 2018.
The proposed project will replace the picnic area next to the maintenance shop (on the east side of the park), but leave the current grassy area alone for P.E. and sports classes.
About $133,000 is projected for landscaping; $124,000 for walkways; $53,000 for picnic tables, benches and barbecues; $160,000 for the bocce courts; $50,000 for contingencies and $60,000 for three years of maintenance.
The grant was approved by Post 283’s general membership at the Legion’s July monthly meeting.
The project, which initially focused solely on bocce courts and a revitalized picnic area, came to the Park Advisory Board in October 2014. The board voted to spend $2,500 to fund a survey regarding the proposed Bocce Center. This money came from the Toppel Matching Grant fund that was established in 2012 in honor of Kurt Toppel’s 80th birthday. (Money donated, which at that point was $1,900, would be matched by the Toppels up to $20,000.)
The project came before the Post 283 Executive Committee in March 2017. As a condition to considering a grant, the committee required that the project’s focus change to one recognizing veterans. Revisions were asked for, which involved a prominent flagpole situated at the entrance to the Gardens that would commemorate Post 283 and veterans, and five additional service monuments celebrating the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
In addition, there would be five outdoor “living room” picnic areas dedicated to the five military branches, with each area having a plaque with the words of that military branch’s service song.
The $20,000 donation approved by Legion membership in July was transferred to the Your Palisades Park Improvement Corporation, a nonprofit, to pay for current expenses, including invoices from Pamela Burton & Company, an architectural firm, for the revised conceptual drawings.
“The extraordinary generosity of the men and women of our American Legion Post 283 will be felt by Palisadians of every age for decades to come,” said Jimmy Dunne, a volunteer who has been spearheading the project.
“Wonderful news!” said Mike Skinner, PAB chairman and chair of the YourPark Corporation. “This will enable us to completely transform the unsightly and much-neglected Upper Picnic Area.”
To donate, contact Jimmy Dunne, (310) 459-7600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tax deductible contributions (made payable to YourPark Corporation) can be mailed to YourPark Corporation, 732 Patterson Pl., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.