Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kick-off of Summer Gang Reduction Effort at City Parks

Los Angeles - Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa joined Department General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri to kick-off the second year of Summer Night Lights (SNL) and announce the program's expansion to 16 sites. The SNL press conference was held at Imperial Courts Recreation Center (one of the 16 SNL sites and a Department facility) on Monday, June 29, 2009.

The Mayor and General Manager were joined by Councilmember Herb Wesson, Chief William Bratton, USC Football Coach Pete Carroll and representatives from participating non-profit and community based organizations. 160 youth squad members were also on hand to celebrate the launch of SNL. Summer Night Lights was developed in partnership with the Department of Recreation and Parks, Coach Carroll's non-profit organization, A Better L.A., the LAPD, the Department of Cultural Affairs and LAUSD.

Taking action to combat gang violence during the summer months, traditionally the most violent time of the year, Summer Night Lights targets parks in the City’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) zones and expands programming, after-school activities, athletic leagues, art initiatives and family programs. The anti-gang initiative keeps City parks open after dark with organized activities for at-risk youth, therefore providing a safe place to spend the summer.

The SNL Program has three major components:
1) Extended hours and programming: From July 8 – September 8th, 16 sites will extend their hours until midnight, four nights a week (Wednesday-Saturday) and expand programming to include youth-centered recreational, educational and artistic activities to engage youth in positive activities during peak times of violence.
2) Youth Squad: Ten community coordinators have been hired to create and staff the extended hours and programs at each park. Community coordinators are at-risk youth, ages 17-20, who received extensive training and will receive stipends for 10 weeks of work.
3) Cease-Fire: Intervention workers will help maintain cease-fires at the sites and in the surrounding community. They also assist in hiring and overseeing community coordinators.

With last summer's success, it only made sense to expand the program from 8 to 16 sites this year. Last year, each site averaged over 6000 kids per week and communties around SNL parks experienced a 17% drop in violent crime, an 86% reduction in homicides and a 23% decrease in aggravated assualt.

Besides expanding to eight additional sites, two other features have also been added to this year's programming. All sites will feature barbeques from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and evening swimming will be available at three Recreation and Parks sites (Jackie Tatum/Harvard Aquatic Center, Glassel pool and Sepulveda pool).

The 16 Summer Night Lights locations are: Cypress Park Recreation Center, Denker Recreation Center, Edward E. Roybal Learning Center, Glassell Park, Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center, Hubert Humphrey Memorial Park, Imperial Courts Recreation Center, Jim Gilliam Park, Jordan Downs Recreation Center, Lemon Grove Recreation Center, Mount Carmel Recreation Center, Nickerson Gardens Recreation Center, Ramon Garcia Recreation Center, Ross Snyder Recreation Center, Ramona Gardens Recreation Center and Sepulveda Recreation Center.

For more information on the SNL program, please visit our website at http://www.laparks.org/ or call (213) 202-2700.

Jane Kolb: (213) 202-2694

A special start to Summer Swimming

Los Angeles - It started with a double ceremony and now it has ended with a double ceremony. In November 2007, the Department of Recreation and Parks celebrated the rededication of Harvard Recreation Center as the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center and broke ground for the facility's pool. Almost two years later on June 21, 2009, we returned to the same place to celebrate the grand opening of the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Aquatic Center and the start of the 2009 swimming season.

The $6.2 million aquatic center includes a 3,400-square-foot traditional swimming pool, a 2,600-square-foot activity pool with zero depth entry, play equipment and a water slide. There is also a 3,700-square-foot one-story masonry building with a lifeguard station, first aid room, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant restrooms and six individual changing rooms.

Western Group, Inc. built the aquatic complex, which was designed by Jones & Madhavan Architecture Engineering. The City's Bureau of Engineering managed the project. Funding came from Proposition K, Proposition 40 and Kaiser Permanente.
The new aquatic center and recreation center was renamed after Jackie Tatum a former Recreation and Parks General Manager. Ms. Tatum was the first woman and first African-American General Manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks. She was a City of Los Angeles employee with 43 years of service.
In November 2007, a ceremony was held to rededicate Harvard Park as the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center. More than 200 people joined Jackie to reminisce and celebrate her Recreation and Parks career. Almost a year later on November 7, 2008, Ms. Tatum passed away. She is survived by her children, Chandler-Renee and Ricky and sister Marilyn.
With the opening of the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Aquatic Center the Department also celebrated the start of the 2009 Summer Swimming Season. The new family aquatic center joined 33 other City seasonal pools that all opened on Saturday, June 20. The Department's 16 year-round pools will also began their summer schedule.

The Department is partnering for the fourth year with Kaiser Permanente for Operation Splash through which qualifying children can receive free lessons. The 2009 commitment of $250,000 will make it possible for thousands of kids in low-income areas to learn how to swim and provided the water slide at Jackie Tatum/Harvard Aquatic Center.

Another partner is the LA84 Foundation, which was established to manage Southern California's share of the surplus from the highly successful 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles; the organization has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Department of Recreation and Parks for a variety of uses, including aquatic facilities and programs.

For the 11th consecutive year, children age 17 or younger, seniors age 65 or older and the disabled can swim for free at all City pools. Children ages 3-6 must be potty-trained and accompanied by an adult at all times; children under 3 must wear a swim diaper. The charge for adults ages 18-64 will be $2.50; those who have a City Library Card will pay $2.

Seasonal pools will be open daily through Monday, September 7. Residents can contact their nearest pool, or the Department's Aquatic Section at (323) 906-7953. Individual pool brochures can be viewed and downloaded at www.laparks.org/aquatic/aquatic.htm.

Jane Kolb: (213) 202-2694

Dedication of the Paul Rodriguez Skate Park

Pacoima - Young skaters were already lining up at Ritchie Valens Recreation Center at 7 a.m. on Sunday, June 21. The festivities for the grand opening of the Paul Rodriguez Skate Park did not start until 12 p.m. but hundreds of skateboarding fans were ready four hours in advance.

When Professional Skateboarder Paul "P-Rod" Rodriguez, Jr. and the NIKE SkateBoarding (SB) Team rolled in, there was over 600 people waiting to greet them. P-Rod brought a special guest with him, his father, comedian and actor Paul Rodriguez who emceed the event which featured music, refreshments and demonstrations by P-Rod and the NIKE SB Team.

Constructed in an area of the San Fernando Valley near where P-Rod grew up, the skate park has an innovative and unique design. The park features replicas of famous Southern California skate spots like the Griffith Park run-off ditch and Sylmar rails. The park has no fences or traditional skate park elements, just natural, skateable architecture.

The new skate park is part of a partnership between the Department of Recreation and Parks, Professional Skateboarder Paul "P-Rod" Rodriguez, Jr., LA84 Foundation and NIKE. The park was designed by P-Rod, Professional Skateboarder Lance Mountain and Joe Ciaglia. California Skateparks built the project which was funded by NIKE and LA84's "Let Me Play" program.

The new skateboarding spot is the ninth skate facility run by the Department of Recreation and Parks. The Paul Rodriguez Skate Park is located within Ritchie Valens Recreation Center at 10731 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Pacoima 91331. For more information on this location or the Department, please visit our website at http://www.laparks.org/ or call (213) 202-2700.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jane Kolb: (213) 202-2694

Friday, June 12, 2009

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Downey Pool

Los Angeles - "What if we don"t know how to swim?" "Then you"ll take lessons and learn." Children from Downey Child Care Center and Albion Street Elementary School curiously questioned Assistant General Manager Vicki Israel about their future swimming adventures. "Will we be able to do cannonballs at the new pool?" "Can my little brother go swimming too?" "What if I only know how to float?" "What's a Splash Pad?"

It was Thursday, June 11, 2009 and the Department of Recreation and Parks was celebrating the start of construction on the Downey Pool Renovation Project. Even though their adventures will not start until the summer of 2010, the young swimmers were already anticipating the fun they will have at the new $3 million aquatics facility.

And what fun they will have with all the exciting and cool features at Downey Pool! The renovation project involves the demolition of the existing deteriorated swimming pool and pump house (which has been closed for the past three years); the construction of a new swimming pool that is 38 feet by 75 feet, a new 1,700-square-foot activity pool/splash pad, and new pump house; and the installation of decorative pool decking, perimeter fencing, landscaping, and irrigation. Renovations are planned to be completed by March 2010.

The Architectural Division in the Bureau of Engineering designed the facility. The Bureau's Municipal Facilities Program will manage the project and Horizon Construction, Inc. or Anaheim will build the aquatic center. Funding for the project at Downey Pool was provided by MICLA, Prop K and Quimby Funds.

When open, Downey Pool will join 33 other Department seasonal pools. Seasonal locations are only open during the summer months (usually from mid-June to early September). The pool will be operated by the Recreation and Parks' Aquatic Division. The Aquatic Division runs over 55 aquatic facilities and provides recreational swimming, lap swim, team sports, lifeguard training, junior lifeguard training, adaptive swimming for the disabled and swimming lessons to 1.3 million Los Angeles residents each year.

Downey Pool is located at 1775 North Spring Street, Los Angeles 90031. The closest open swim facility is Lincoln Pool located at 3501 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles 90032, (213) 847-3382. For more information on this project or the Department, visit our website at http://www.laparks.org/ or call (213) 202-2700.

Jane Kolb: (213) 202-2694

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Bellaire Avenue Park

North Hollywood - The Department of Recreation and Parks' General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri, Councilmember Wendy Greuel and local residents broke ground to celebrate the construction of Bellaire Avenue Park on Monday, June 8, 2009.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony marked the start of the transformation of a 0.14 acre vacant lot into a charming neighborhood park. When complete the new park will provide a much-needed haven for local residents to relax, gather and play. Features to Bellaire Avenue Park will include a 2-5 year old play area, an outdoor classroom with wood stump seating and a demonstration garden.

The Department's Planning Division has designed Bellaire Avenue Park to contain water conservation objectives. Water conservation has become an important issue around the world and the implementation of water saving measures is greatly needed everywhere. The Department of Recreation and Parks is proud to say that Bellaire Avenue Park will be part of that effort by implementing the following special features to the new park.

Bellaire Park will be landscaped with California native and drought tolerant plants. Native/drought tolerant plants are adapted to the wet winters and dry summers, allowing less use of water, fertilizer and pesticides. The beautiful existing Walnut Tree will be preserved and has been worked into the park's design. A Smart Irrigation System will be installed, which will help save 325,000 gallons of water annually. All of these special efforts will help conserve water and the natural habitat while providing residents with local parkland.

The new park will be constructed by the Department's Planning and Construction Division and will cost approximately $350,000. Bellaire Avenue Park site is located at 7960 Bellaire Avenue in North Hollywood, 91605. For more information on this location or the Department, please visit our website at http://www.laparks.org/ or call (213) 202-2700.

Jane Kolb: (213) 202-2694

Monday, June 08, 2009

Dedication of a new Outdoor Fitness Zone at Pan Pacific

Los Angeles - The Department of Recreation and Parks, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land (TPL), proudly dedicated an Outdoor Fitness Zone at Pan Pacific Recreation Center on Thursday, June 4, 2009.

TPL is a non-profit organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks and other natural places. The Pan Pacific Outdoor Fitness Zone is part of the TPL’s Fitness Zone Program. The Fitness Zone Program was created to provide new opportunities for park patrons to be active and healthy.

During the last 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 40 million Americans are considered overweight or obese. More than 60% of adults and 50% of young people do not get the recommended amount of regular physical activity. Studies have shown that providing simple and accessible exercise equipment dramatically increases physical activity and therefore improves a person’s health.

The new Fitness Zone is an easy-to-use outdoor gym designed to improve general health through weight loss, cardiovascular endurance, increased flexibility and strength building. The exercise equipment is designed to be durable, vandal resistant and used in various configurations. The Fitness Zone is free and can be used by teenagers and adults of all fitness levels.

The outdoor exercise area has eight pieces of equipment: a cross-country ski machine, an upper body workout station, horizontal bars, leg press machine, lat pull-down machine, seated arm machine, incline crunch bench and lying leg curl machine. All of the machines have American’s with Disability Act compliant surfacing and bilingual instructions decals.

Pan Pacific is the sixth completed Fitness Zone. The Outdoor Fitness Zone was donated in memory of Geysol Johana Lopez Vasquez (April 20, 1972 – August 18, 2007) by her family and friends. Geysol worked to better the health and lives of those around her through selfless service and dedication.

Pan Pacific Recreation Center is located at 7600 Beverly Blvd 90036. For more information on this project of the Department, please visit our website at http://www.laparks.org/ or call (213) 202-2700.

Jane Kolb: (213) 202-2694
Amy A. Garcia: (213) 202-2689