When the American flag was flying not so proudly at Crescenta Commons, in stepped the vets to lend a hand.
By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
Crescenta Commons, the small park on the southwest corner of Rosemont and Orange avenues in La Crescenta, has become an informal community meeting place since its dedication in 2014. It is not unusual to see local firefighters having lunch at the picnic table on the grounds or a Boy Scout troop picking up trash and tidying up. Vibrant plants dot the property and a stone monument stands proudly in the middle of a decomposed granite walkway surrounded by tiles. Inside the monument is a time capsule and capping it is an American flag.
But after nearly two years, a problem arose concerning the flag.
“A community member left a note on the monument stating that it was a disgrace,” said Robbyn Battles who, as president of the Crescenta Valley Town Council at the time, headed up the development of the Crescenta Commons. “Apparently the flag was touching the stones, which was disrespectful.”
Since leaving office, Battles, along with Commons neighbors Fred Laughrey and Ines Chessum, is part of the self-named Commons Keepers. This group looks after the property and addresses any problems that may arise. The note was given to Battles who planned to ask for help from members of American Legion Post 288 and Veterans of Foreign War Post 1641.
“I knew the VFW and American Legion would know what to do,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why not go to the experts?’”
In the meantime it was decided that Laughrey would take down the flag until a plan of action was decided. But while at the Commons, Laughrey was told by neighbors to leave the flag alone.
“‘No, no, no – don’t remove that flag,’” Battles said he was told.
So Battles approached the American Legion and VFW for direction. Members Mike Baldwin and Robert Wollenweber headed up to Crescenta Commons to find out what needed to be done. It was quickly determined that the flag had been hung too low.
After talking to other members, it was decided that the VFW and American Legion would buy a new flag for the Commons and install a new flag pole. Wollenweber and his uncle Al Wood, formerly with the L.A. Sheriff’s Dept., undertook that task.
On Saturday morning, the community was invited to the Commons for an official salute to the newly installed flag led by acting commander of the VFW Ron Bularz. After the salute, Bularz talked to the group about former commander Jerry Peterson who passed away earlier this month. After speaking, Battles said that a plaque honoring Peterson would be installed at the Commons.
Among those there on Saturday morning were members of Troop 302, which has taken on the duty of picking up trash on the site every month. Scout Baston Cross is a kindergartener at nearby Monte Vista Elementary School, a few yards west of the Commons. His mom Kathleen said the family would stop at the Commons while work was being done and that Baston helped plant a tree at the site.
“He watched this grow over the years,” Cross said. “Being a part of this process is awesome.”
A former Monte Vista student, Laughrey has been working on the grounds almost since work began years ago.
“I see so many people enjoy what we do here,” he said. “It is much better now than what was here before. The project turned out better than we expected.”
For 18 years Robert Muñoz has lived across the street from the property that is now the Commons. He said that the transformation has been remarkable.
“It is a great spot for kids after school,” he said. “Kids sit down and congregate. They don’t throw rocks anymore, either.”
At the end of the morning, Battles and other Commons supporters packed up the refreshments and a donation box that had been put out. Battles later discovered that about $40 had been collected.
“The community has embraced this park,” she said. “The money collected – it will pay half a water bill or for five new plants. Every bit of support is important to me. I am completely humbled that people show up and support the Commons.”
To lend a hand or make a financial donation to maintain the park, call Robbyn Battles at (818) 249-7492.