A community meeting to brainstorm ideas for what to do with Tara will be held on Oct. 12 and construction on the automated parking garage behind City Hall will start in January, but there is still no progress on the redesign of Plummer Park. That’s what members of the West Hollywood Public Facilities Commission learned Wednesday night as they received updates about various city-owned properties.
Tara – The reroofing and “mothballing” of the 99-year-old house at 1343 N. Laurel Ave. at Fountain, donated to the city in 1997, will be completed by January 2014, according to West Hollywood’s acting Public Information Officer Lisa Belsanti. That $1.5 million “mothballing” process will temporarily preserve the house while public meetings are held to determine a permanent use for the house known as “Tara” and its grounds which have been turned into Laurel Park.
The first in a series of community meetings about Tara’s fate will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. in Plummer Park, Belsanti reported. After that, a series of smaller “community visioning” workshops will be held to further discuss Tara. In the meantime, an online survey recruiting suggestions for uses for the property will be available from Sept. 17 to Oct. 7 at www.1343nlaurelave.org
In response to a 2008 California Supreme Court ruling that the city did not get adequate public input into its now-abandoned plan to build 28 affordable housing units for seniors on the property, the city will do a mass mailing informing residents of the meetings to assure transparency. Belsanti said shuttles will be provided to bring residents to the Oct. 12 meeting.
Robo-garage – During its Aug. 19 meeting, the City Council approved selling $16 million in bonds to pay for the state-of-the-art, automated 200-space parking garage behind City Hall at 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. at Sweetzer. Jeff Huffer, the city’s strategic initiatives manager, told the commission construction will begin January 2014 and will be completed by June 2015. The $1 million widening of Sweetzer Avenue and undergrounding of utility lines near City Hall is due to start in November and will be completed by March 2014, Huffer said.
West Hollywood Park – In May, the City Council voted to proceed with the $80 million phase two of the West Hollywood Park renovations, which includes building a five-story recreation center with rooftop swimming pools where the El Tovar parking lot currently stands. The renovations also call for demolition of the current auditorium and swimming pool in favor of more green space and a National AIDS Monument.
The city issued a request for proposals concerning the park redesign and received 24 responses, according to Huffer. A City Council subcommittee consisting of councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman will whittle those 24 down. They will then interview a handful of the applicants. The three finalists will be given a $10,000 “honorarium” to create drawings and the City Council will then select the finalist in January 2014, Huffer reported.
Plummer Park – No progress has been made on Plummer Park since May 2012 when the City Council voted to put the $41 million park redesign on hold following intense public outcry against it. As the money for the park renovations is now in question due to the state-mandated dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency, Huffer said he does not know when the council will take up the issue again.
Resident Stephanie Harker, who spearheaded the Protect Plummer Park movement that got those plans put on hold, stressed that the park does need renovations, just not the ones the council initially approved. She presented a petition with 2,156 names saying they are opposed to the city’s current plan for redesign of the park, which calls for adding an “ultra modern” façade to Fiesta Hall, removing over 40 “old growth” trees and building a 179-space underground parking garage in the center of the park.
Harker also said in light of the addition of Great Hall-Long Hall to the National Register of Historic Places in July, she wishes the city would at least mothball the conjoined buildings until a final decision on how to renovate them is made.
Commissioners Adam Bass and Cole Ettman both expressed frustration that the council is not taking action on Plummer Park and wondered what the Commission could do to speed the process along.
“Our program is determined by the City Council and their last action put the item on hold,” Huffer said. “So until council brings the item forward, we can’t do anything.”