Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Community worried about ramifications due to park renovation

Long Beach -- Parents in communities with parks nearby imagine their children being able to run around and have fun without having to worry about the dangers of sewage overflow or run down fields.  Parents and other community members who live near Chittick Field in Long Beach, Calif. will no longer have to think about those dangers because of an ongoing renovation project that will create a safe environment for sports enthusiasts to enjoy, but not everyone is happy about the project.
Although this projects aims to improve the community it is located in, there are complaints from other citizens in Long Beach who do not live near the park.
Joyce Bautista is a kinesiology student at Cal State Long Beach who does not live near Chittick Field; however, she does live near another park that she wants to see renovated.
“Hudson Park near Cabrillo High School and Hudson School is falling apart,” she said.  “There is graffiti all over the bathrooms and playground equipment.  How are kids supposed to have fun when there are dangerous things like broken glass lying around?  I’m just scared that gang members might congregate in this area.  There is no safety at all.”
Renovations to the park began on Sept. 29, but will halt on Oct. 15 because the field is an active stormwater management facility.  Construction will halt during what is called the rainy season from Oct. 15 through Apr. 15.  This has some community members worried.
“If they stop construction, then the area would look even uglier,” unemployed teacher Sivmui Chia said.  “I’m also worried of all the mud and clogs that [the construction] might allow.  If they plow through the dirt, aren’t [construction workers] worried that some of that dirt might flow down the sewage pipe?”
Others are worried that the construction will delay traffic in an already congested area.
Delon Salvador is a criminal justice major at CSULB.  He said the he travels down PCH to get to school and is worried that if cranes and other construction vehicles will go down the street, then traffic will slow down and he would have to find another route to get to school. 
But those who live near Chittick Field see the renovations as way improve community’s relationships with each other.
“Within a one mile radius of the park there is a total population of 75,000 of my neighbors,” Councilmember Dee Andrews said.  “With 37 percent of the population under 18 years old and 30 percent under the poverty line, it warms my heart to know that this will be a home for all to enjoy for free, including soccer fields, a football field that can be used for all, including the school district, and increase the ability of our youth to participate in athletics."
Thommy Lim lives in the area and wants the field to be renovated so he could use its facilities.
“I’ve played volleyball ever since I was young,” he said.  “I just hope this renovation can include a volleyball court so I wouldn’t have to travel far to play.  Plus, if they include a track and gym of the sorts, then I could just walk to Chittick [Field] and do my workouts there.  No need for a gym membership.”
Chittick Field Park is located near Walnut Ave. and Pacific Coast Highway and will begin phase one of renovations starting Sept. 29 through Oct. 15.  The $4.3 million project is funded by the County of Los Angeles Regional Park and Open District.
The renovations will begin preparations for a regulation-sized football field with natural turf and new lighting for evening games.  They will also bring a track that will surround the field for sports like javelin, pole vault and other track sports that could be used in all weather conditions.  The city also plans to bring two youth soccer fields and an adult soccer field.
The city originally planned to do renovations back in 2009 when the Salvation Army offered to pay for the Ray and Joan Croc Community Corps Center, a $140 million project that never came to fruition.  The reason behind why they could not continue the project was because the Salvation Army could not raise enough funds for the gift, only raising $15 million. 
The field was known as the “dust bowl” by members of the community because of its unpaved parking lots.  Because of those conditions, renovations for the park were always planned.
With money and back by the community, hopefully this renovation will restore the park for everyone to enjoy.

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