A proposal from City Councilman Tom LaBonge is causing quite a stir in northeast Los Angeles. LaBonge, in an effort to answer the calls of parents in the area for more Little League baseball fields, floated the idea of building two in Griffith Park.
This would reduce the amount of time parents in Los Feliz, Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Echo Park and East Hollywood would have to spend driving to Hancock Park or Toluca Lake, where the closest fields are now. Griffith Park used to have an abundance of little league and adult baseball fields, but they were removed when the 5 Freeway was built.
"Now we have an abundance of families with children who would like to see their kids get recreation of any sort and there's no place for them to go," said Mark Mauceri of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council.
"What would be displaced is a portion of flat space that has trees in it… it would displace 7 picnic tables, but there's a discussion about the term displaced, because they would be moved 75 to 100 yards down in the same area. Some people think the whole area is being ripped out, its not."
The fields would be located on the east side of Griffith Park near Crystal Springs Drive and the project would be funded by Proposition K and would run upwards of $950,000. One stipulation of Proposition K projects is that they are opened up to public discussion, and some vocal minority factions are proving to be an obstacle for the project.
Opponents of the plan cite the fact that construction would move a frequented picnic area and displace several trees in the area. Several equestrians also claim that the noisy kids could spook their horses on the trail which would run up near the fields.
"The proposed site of the two baseball fields would in fact wipe out a substantial portion of the Crystal Springs picnic area, a beautiful open area which sports many many trees, many of them 100, 200 years old." said Joe Young of the Sierra Club. "My second concern is the proponents refuse to acknowledge that there are two existing baseball fields in this area."
Mauceri argues that while there are two baseball fields already in existence in the area, they're meant for adults and not suitable for children.
"Pote field… is an adult baseball field. It's got 90-foot base pads. It's the kind of field that Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and Albert Pujols play on, it doesn't really work for 5 and 6-year-olds," said Mauceri. "You don't want to destroy that field because it's one of the few adult fields we have."
Alternately, an area of Atwater Village across the Los Angeles River and Interstate 5 is being considered as a backup option.
When will the council rule on this issue? What other problems do opponents of the plan have with the proposed fields? What other options are there to reach a resolution? Is there a potential win-win for both sides?
Mark Mauceri, Recreation Interests Representative, Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council (GGPNC); he is also a media consultant and coaches the Silver Lake T-Ball Pirates.
Joe Young, Member of the Exec Committee of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club and Member of Friends of Griffith Park