Dear Monrovia City Council candidates:
At a recent candidates’ forum, challenger Jason Cosylion suggested building a new park in south Monrovia, where the city is underparked: “The money is there. It can be built and should be implemented without delay.”
I like the idea. Appreciate the passion. Jason, you’re right. The city parks are mostly in the north of town. As someone who lived in your city for 14 years, I’m with you. But realistically, there’s not a piece of land, nor enough money “or grants” to build a new park. The state is cutting, cutting, cutting and may even take away the city’s redevelopment monies because no one wants to raise taxes. Heck, the GOP won’t even agree to a ballot measure to extend the same taxes we’ve had for the past two years. Pensions are out of control, eating up city budgets. And city services are suffering from paying top managers too much money. Sooooo, it’s rare to see any new parks emerge.
But if you are serious about this idea, let me suggest you get behind Peck Road Water Conservation Park. It already exists. The only problem is no one knows about it. What, you’ve never heard of this park? That’s funny, because it is located just a few thousand feet south of Live Oak Avenue, just off Peck Road, on a sliver of land that’s technically Arcadia but abuts county-unincorporated Monrovia, Irwindale, El Monte and is a stone’s throw from Temple City.
So, Monrovia, since you brought up parks, you get first crack. Here’s my proposal: Make Peck Road Park yours, too. How? Start using it! It is so close to the residents of Monrovia and the county unincorporated MAD area (Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte) that kids can walk or ride their bikes there. Families could picnic or barbecue there. The lakes are filled with water year-round. The bird population changes with the seasons but it’s very common to see gulls, egrets, green herons, cooper’s hawks and black phoebes, according to a report released by the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC), the agency that funnels grant money for parks and green space protection.
Start the South Monrovia Bird Watching Group. How about the South Monrovia Parks Coalition, which will raise money for park improvements?
It’s hard to over-praise this place. It’s a 200-acre urban oasis with bicycle paths and greenery, plus a gorgeous panorama of the San Gabriel Mountains. I’ve been writing about it for dozens of years and in fact, the agencies in charge of parks took notice and recently began to improve it. The biggest problem: too few people know about it. Not once did anyone at the forum say: “A new park in south Monrovia? Yeah, that would be good, but unrealistic. Why not provide transportation and some buy-in to Peck Road Park, just a few minutes away.”
It just so happens that on Monday, the RMC board approved a $600,000 grant to the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. and the county Department of Parks to widen the park’s entrance, add more trees, upgrade the restrooms and plant a demonstration garden.
This is fantastic news. The improvements build upon the bioswales, decomposed granite walkways and lovely picnic areas created by the nonprofit Amigos de los Rios less than a year ago.
Once the new entrance is finished, people will notice the place more and visit. I hope it’s responsible people like those running for office, or living in the homes nearby from Monrovia, El Monte and Temple City. We need leaders to claim the park as their own and build on what Amigos, the county and the RMC started.
“We have to advertise it more and engage the communities of Arcadia, Monrovia,” said Belinda Faustinos, RMC executive officer. “Right now, there are a lot of physical barriers between the park and where the people live. We need more buy in.”
Drop me an email and we’ll take a tour. I’ll fill up the tires on my bike. Oh, did you know Peck Road Park is where the Rio Hondo Bike Trail begins? I’ll race you to Long Beach.