“Everyone wants a chunk of Griffith Park, after a while, who knows how much of it will be left?” says Gerry Hans of the Friends of Griffith Park about the two baseball fields that are being proposed at the Crystal Spring picnic area.
The wild side of Griffith Park has been getting a lot of attention these days with famed mountain lion P-22 roaming the landscape; this proposed project – about four acres in total size – would reduce the size of Griffith Park’s natural land enjoyed by picnickers, bikers, hikers and joggers. Funded with Proposition K monies, the project would give athletic opportunities to the underserved youth in the area and their families.
Two sites are being considered at Crystal Springs – Proposed Project Site 1A is northeast of the current Pote Baseball Field, and Alternative 1B is located just southeast of Pote Field on the grassy area. (Yes, there is a baseball field already on site, but Pote Field is for adults and the two proposed ball fields would be for youngsters.) Another alternative site of consideration is at nearby North Atwater Park across the 5 Golden State Freeway away from Griffith Park.
According to the Environmental Impact Report which was released on Oct. 31, 2013, the plan would construct two new youth baseball fields…
Each baseball field would include a home plate, bases, pitcher’s mound, batters’ and catcher’s boxes, two dugouts (with two benches with approximately twenty-seats each), two bleachers, 16-foot high outfield/perimeter fencing, natural grass, warm-up areas, and scoreboard….Security lighting, landscaping, and an irrigation system would also be installed.
The report calls for the removal of 45 trees (black walnut, sycamore and one coast live oak) and suggests replacing many of removed trees at a rate of 2:1 and others at a 4:1 ratio along with advocating removing them when migrating birds are not nesting.
The one afternoon wildlife assessment revealed no endangered or threatened species in the area and noted the site is near highly developed areas where adaptable wildlife – crows, raccoons, opossums, etc. – often travel through looking for food.
The report concluded that the area is neither a wildlife corridor nor contains nesting/nursery sites and that any developments would not substationally stop wildlife from moving in and around (when the people are gone, natch). We can easily imagine wildlife entering the bleachers and dugouts to scavenge the leftover food that parents and players will no doubt leave behind. We are pretty sure that at the nearby golf course, wildlife – raccoons, skunks, deer and maybe even a mountain lion? – frolics the course once the sun in down. No one needs an EIR to come to that conclusion. Griffith Park is, after all, an island of wilderness surrounded by an urban, asphalt and concrete ocean.
The bigger picture with this current proposal, however, is not so much about baseball fields (which honestly would serve the community more if they were within walking or biking distance of kid’s schools and homes) but more about an appropriate plan for appreciating and managing Griffith Park. What is the city’s overall view of Griffith Park not just in 2014 but in the next 20, 50, 100 years? How will developments be considered, especially from current renters like the L.A. Zoo, the Autry and the Greek Theater? And what responsibility does Forest Lawn — that actually owns its cemetery property — have toward the safeguarding of the park? What areas are off-limits? What proposals are off-limits? What are the determining guidelines for the correct balance of recreation, wildlife/natural appreciation for the area?
Back when he was king of the land, Col. Griffith deemed that his park be a place for human recreation and all wildlife management plans must balance outdoor sport with wildlife welfare. We’ve seen too many times unmanaged human recreation in parks squashing the needs of wildlife – Griffith Park deserves better plans and insight.
Currently there is no adopted vision for Griffith Park – the Griffith Park Management Plan (draft version updated 2008) is all you can find online. That plan offers a different view of Crystal Springs from the current EIR. That plan advocates Crystal Springs – which features remnants of an actual stream (now a ditch culvert) that drained into the Los Angeles River – be restored back into native riparian habitat. “Instead of looking at cement and algae, park visitors could catch tadpoles and watch dragonflies dart over reed-filled pools,” the plan recommends.
Dragonflies or high flying balls? We have a feeling we know which one will win. It’s unclear where Los Angeles city council members Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell, California State Assembly member Mike Gatto stand, but the Los Feliz Ledger reports that the LA Dodgers who embrace the ball fields for its ability to teach team work and leadership skills; they also state that six neighborhood council also support the plan. Take that tadpoles.
We are with Hans as he calmly states, “There are so many other places to put ball fields. Let Griffith Park be Griffith Park.”
The Friends of Griffith Park are circulating a petition against the proposed Crystal Spring plans. Public comment closes Dec. 17, 2013 and a public workshop and hearing will be held 5:30 pm on Nov. 20 at the Los Angeles Zoo.
— Brenda Rees, editor