Instead of protestors, Los Angeles City Hall’s north and south lawns may soon be occupied by contractors, landscapers and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks.
Following OccupyLA’s presence, city officials are looking to renovate the City Hall lawns, which were damaged during the seven-week protest over corporate and government greed. Though officials could simply fix the broken sprinkler system and replace the sod, they’re using the opportunity to enhance the lawn’s appeal.
Michael Shull, the department’s superintendent of planning, construction and maintenance, said officials have created three options for renovating the lawns, though they’re still looking for ways to fund it.
“At the end of the day, we have to answer to that funding issue,” Shull said.
The first option includes replacing the sod and broken irrigation system, while planting a variety of low-water use plants and installing granite paths connecting the Temple Street and Spring Street entrances.
The second possibility would include all of Option 1 while expanding planting areas near 1st Street and installing a new irrigation system.
The third option would add low-water planting areas to all areas adjacent to the building, construct perimeter turf areas in three triangular areas of the lower portion of the property and redesign the irrigation system for the entire area. It also includes granite pathways and turf removal.
“Most people … see the need for a balanced approach,” Shull said.
He said the department has received a lot of feedback regarding the project, from residents and organizations. Interested parties are invited to comment on the plans, and the department is also soliciting donations and volunteers.
“There was a lot more interest [than expected],” Shull said. “We were surprised by the amount of interest in it.”
He said city officials had been looking to redesign the north lawn before OccupyLA. The Los Angeles Conservation Corp. had pledged $130,000 for the work, and a rebate for the turf will amount to $1 per square foot, Shull said. However, he added that the funding will not cover the entire cost.
Shull said the department has not attached costs to the options, as they have yet to be approved by any governing body and are still seeking public input. The project will need to be approved by the department board as well as the Los Angeles City Council.
Based on the department’s analysis, the south lawn hosted 113 events in 2011 alone, Shull said. He said it would be a great place to showcase the city’s water conservation efforts, in hopes that citizens would follow suit.
“City Hall should represent … what we’re asking for our water conservation efforts around the city,” Shull said, adding that the department has trimmed its water usage by 35 percent, amounting to 1 billion gallons of water. “That’s where we’re seeing a way to educate the community.”
The OccupyLA damage was mostly due to the tents, he said. The encampment killed the grass at city hall, and the sprinkler systems and landscaping couldn’t withstand the 24/7 foot traffic, he said.
“That’ll kill just about anything,” Shull said. “There isn’t any landscaping that will hold up to that.”
Residents interested in donating money to the project should visit the department’s foundation website at www.laparksfoundation.org. To volunteer, residents are asked to visit www.laparks.org/restoration and voice their interest under the comment section of each project option.
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