By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale City Council took time off Tuesday for a tour of local parks, getting a firsthand look at how many of the city’s parks and recreation programs are implemented for educational and recreational uses.
In lieu of their regular meeting at City Hall, the city council with staff and members of the public boarded a school bus that took them to Deukmejian Wilderness Park, Verdugo Park and the Pacific Community Center and Health Clinic for their latest “workboot” meeting, hosted by Glendale’s Community Services & Parks Dept.
Past workboot meetings have focused on the nuts and bolts of Glendale utilities and services, but Tuesday’s undertaking explored what Glendale residents do for fun and which recreational and community resources they’d like to see preserved.
The first stop on the tour was Le Mesnager Barn at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, which has stood for more than a century in the San Gabriel Mountains and was acquired by the city of Glendale in 1988.
The barn could be up for a thorough restoration that includes a new HVAC system, plumbing, electrical work and a concrete floor slab to replace the current dirt floor interior, a new glass storefront entry and ADA improvements to the facility.
Grant money allowed for a seismic retrofit of the structure, but Marc Stirdivant of Glendale Community Services & Parks envisions not only preserving and restoring the barn, but also having it open to the public regularly for classes, lectures and other events.
Used by “mountain bikers, dog walkers, nature lovers, photographers,” as well as “people who just simply sometimes want to leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life and come out to a place that’s quiet and green and beautiful,” Stirdivant described how the barn already serves as a congregation spot for the community and could easily be transformed into a community room and education center.
Verdugo Park at 1621 Cañada Boulevard, which could be up for similar additions to its on-site amenities, was the second stop on the tour.
Home to Stengel Field, which could undergo the extensive rebuilding of its historic grandstand, the park is also in line for potential additions of a new playground and refurbished softball field, complete with artificial turf, according to Koko Panossian, Glendale Senior Parks Services manager.
In the final stop of the council’s mobile meeting, city officials saw the use of park resources in action when they viewed a soccer game played by students in the “One Glendale” program, an after-school sports program recently initiated by the city.
Fourth and fifth grade students from Cerritos, Horace Mann, Marshall and Edison elementary schools face off in weekly competitions at the community center, with Tuesday’s game taking place near the beginning of the eight-week soccer season.
Students participate in four separate seasons, consisting of flag football, basketball, soccer and volleyball.
Onnig Bulanikian, Community Services administrator, said the program could be expanded to include four more schools, pending adequate funding: R.D. White, Jefferson, Columbus and Muir.
Bulanikian said the program has yielded improved grades and a decrease in bullying at participating schools.
The program is free of charge for its 480 participating students.