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Hope for a Southside Park Yet

In another turn of events, the city may get a discounted price for land on Los Angeles Avenue after a bank bought it back in foreclosure.

When a from under the city's nose earlier this month, the chances for a pocket park on the south side of town looked even bleaker.

But the city learned this week that the buyer was Wells Fargo bank, and it was merely buying back the property when no one else bid on it at auction. The bank paid $234,000--about $65,000 less than the city was prepared to offer.

Now city officials hope the discounted price the bank paid will allow them to get the corner lot for less than they originally planned for.

"We’re hopeful based on what they bought it at auction for that that's going to determine what the value is," City Manager Scott Ochoa said.

The city's meager open space offerings have been a hot topic for discussion at recent council meetings, and community members, along with Councilman Tom Adams, have repeatedly pressed to erect a pocket park on the south side of town, where no park has existed since the city's founding 125 years ago.

But other council members have stressed that parks like Julian Fisher Park are in dire need of renovation, and repairs could cost close to $1 million. And the city still plans to build a park near the in anticipation of the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

City staff will spend the next several weeks meeting with community members to try and hash out its open space priorities, Ochoa said. But the council's hand could be forced by Adam's push for a park on the south side. Adams made his frustration apparent at the last council meeting, saying that the south side should not have to accept any more delays.

"Repeatedly what that neighborhood has heard is, 'Not yet, it's not the right time, we can’t afford it,' and I’ve been hearing that for a long time," he said.

After a lot of hand-wringing, the directed staff to pursue purchasing the property at 601 Los Angeles Avenue. If the city buys that land, it will essentially be committing to building a park there.

"If you buy that property for the express public purpose of a pocket park, then you’re locked into that," Ochoa said.

There is only so much money to go around, so a pocket park could affect the city's ability to pay for other open space improvements, Ochoa said.

"These things are not mutually exclusive, but they have an impact on one another," he said.

The city hopes to get grant funding to pay for some of the playground renovations at Julian Fisher, but the rest of the money would have to come out of the general fund reserve--the same pot that would pay for a park on the south side, which could cost a total of more than $500,000.

Ochoa said the city will soon begin notifying residents of community meetings to discuss the city's parks master plan.

Stephanie September 30, 2011 at 09:45 PM
As a Monrovia parent, I emphathize with those on the south side who may not have a park nearby. I personally don't mind driving to other parks...in fact my children get bored if we go to the same one regularly...so I would like to see the funds used to bring the current parks back up to an acceptable state first. Besides the obvious equipment needs at Julian Fisher, the equipment and even the sand at many of the other parks need attention. I rarely see anyone at Olive, Rotary or Julian Fisher because of this. The creation of a new park when we have so many not being used because they are in disrepair, is poor stewardship of funds.
Joe Black September 30, 2011 at 10:13 PM
The poor stewardship of funds is the salaries and benefits paid to the City Management in Monrovia, not for a small park where none currently exist. The City Council Just approved huge benefits including Performance Bonuses for Management, Continued Car Allowances, 5 weeks paid time off to start, Unlimited Vacation and Sick Time Accrual (which the get paid out for) not to mention the Pension Benefits that are 5 times greater than what the rest of us get in Social Security. This is why the City of Monrovia has no money for parks plain and simple.
Steve Buckner October 01, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Also joe, If the fire cheif gets cought taking money that he new he should not get and is cought doing such, he gets a performance bonus. So you also are exempt from any laws. You should see how much money the city spinds on going after me. The latest one is two city trucks 3 or 4 guys, from Public Works, come over to my house and clean a 100' long road next to my house. I asked the forman why are you doing this work when the road is spotless by my claening it. He shakes his head and says, Just doing what I am told. OK, clean the clean road then. Walk around ANY parks and see if there is some cleaning that needs to be done. We have money to screw with people, but not for the real needs of the public.
Joe Black October 02, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Hey Steve, are you saying the City is billing you for this service or simply doing unnecessary cleanup or both?
Steve Buckner October 03, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Joe, The work is being done because the city manager has an ax to grind. He has so far filed a law suit to take my land based on using puplic funds to improve my prop, which is a lie. Installed an access gate next to my house, which is NOT the citys prop. There is a gate across the street so why install one next to my house. Install a fire lane up my access road and telling me I cant park there anymore. There is a 4" wide red stripe with white letters saying no parking in three different locations up the road. Installed 3 no parking signs on the block wall that runs along the side of my house. ALL work was done wile I am gone from my home. Which leads up to the public works cleaning a clean road. Now you tell me if all this unnecessary work and countless hours spent over at my prop is just to F with me. The city manager wants a law suit so he can keep his right hand man employed. Not his money he is spending. Sorry for the thread hack people.
Steve Buckner October 03, 2011 at 03:02 PM
See photos of road and gate above.
Joe Black October 03, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Hey Steve, I agree with you 100%. The City Manager has used similar bullying policies with other residents and has cost this community a fortune in legal costs. The problem you face is that the City is leveraging the wilderness preserve to get as much grant money as it can to fund all of their departments. You should request the full accounting for how the grant money was spent from the clerks office and share how much is spent on administrative costs.

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