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The West Hollywood City Council voted on Feb. 16 to confirm the $9.5 million cost for upgrades to Plummer Park, setting in motion long-awaited plans to upgrade the historic park on the city’s eastside that could start with improvements to the halls and the addition of a dog park.
The item, which was approved unanimously without discussion as part of the consent calendar, directed staff to confirm the costs for the project using redevelopment bonds, while also asking staff to return with further direction.
The $9.5 million estimate includes $3.3 million for upgrades to the Great Hall/Long Hall, between $2.8 and $4.5 million for construction on Fiesta Hall, and between $385,000 and $510,000 for the addition of a permanent dog park area.
City staff wrote in an adjacent memo that further visioning for the park is expected to begin in the summer or fall of 2021, with that community-based process potentially taking up to a year before construction starts.
“Capital improvements at Plummer Park have been under consideration for many years. The facilities at the park are in need of repair and the community is anxious to see these improvements implemented. Because of COVID-19, many of the typical uses for Great Hall/Long Hall and Fiesta Hall have been postponed or cancelled and this may be an appropriate time to move forward with improvements,” the memo read.
The move represents the most tangible step toward updating the park, a process that dates back to 2011, when a previous council proposed a major renovation that included removing trees to make way for an underground parking lot, as well as the installation of an interactive water feature, central park promenade and new playground equipment. Those plans were scrapped in 2014 after public outcry.
While many questions remain about the project, Stephanie Harker, who co-founded Protect Plummer Park a decade ago and led much of the opposition to those previous plans, said she is “elated” by the most-recent developments.
“I was doing the happy dance,” she said. “I think it’s a real, real benefit for the community at large but also for this neighborhood.”
Over the last few years, the city has reignited discussions with the public about the future of the park with community outreach and further feasibility and budgeting assessments. That created goals for the project, including construction of a parking structure with tennis courts on top, the addition of the dog park and hall renovations, and better community involvement.
Meanwhile, the California Historic Resources Commission placed the Great Hall/Long Hall in the National Register of Historic Places, despite opposition from a previous West Hollywood City Council.
With that designation and the current plans, the council’s move garnered the support of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, which provided a letter to the city saying it aligns with the city’s strategic plan goals to protect cultural resources, increases the public’s awareness of those resources, and promotes their preservation and rehabilitation.
They also urged the city to designate parts of the park as local cultural resources.
“The WHPA urges the City Council to proactively initiate the process to designate Great Hall/Long Hall and Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park as local cultural resources in our city – much like the city did with the local designation of the historic Formosa Café. The city should be able to complete such local designations relatively quickly,” the letter read.
For Harker, she said the fact that the plans are in motion is a “relief because we were so passionate about it and we still are.”
She said the ultimate goal has always been to create more open space while preserving the history of the park, and that she feels the city is on the right path.
“We’re very excited. We feel that this is what was needed for the park for a very long time,” she said.
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