By Galen Patterson
Arcadia City Council held an open study session regarding the planned developments at Eisenhower Memorial Park in Arcadia.
Residents were encouraged to speak about their thoughts on the Eisenhower Park project, due to the previous City Council meeting when several members of the public voiced concerns about the project and claimed they had not been given a fair chance to speak about the park before construction began.
Public tempers flared more than once during the meeting, at one point causing Mayor Verlato to declare a recess to let emotions settle.
Main focus points from the speakers can be broken down into four categories: missing sound barrier on the nearby highway, the length of time for closing the dog park, pedestrian safety from an adjoining crosswalk, and the removal of the basketball courts from the park.
After 11 residents voiced their opinions, councilmembers responded to the focus points and asked questions to city representatives on traffic safety and park amenities.
By the end of the evening, the council had deliberated and addressed the main concerns of the park project.
The missing sound barriers remain under a promise from Councilman Tom Beck, that he will continue to work on the issue and has been since he was elected 5 years ago. Beck said the problem deals with agencies outside the city’s direct control and he will not stop trying to fix the issue.
The pedestrian safety at the adjoining crosswalk near Newman Avenue is scheduled to be addressed at a future Traffic Safety Committee meeting, where they will presumably discuss how to most effectively enhance the safety of the crosswalk.
The dog park and basketball court removal differ in the way that the city is planning on installing a new dog park, while the original approved plan for the project was to remove the basketball courts without replacing them.
Currently, the park has been closed and almost entirely demolished to begin renovation, which is scheduled to be completed in April of 2020, meaning the dog park is irreparably closed and the basketball courts are already gone. Part of the purpose of the open study session during the meeting was to see whether or not the basketball courts should be replaced.
City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto addressed the council with his take on the difficulty of the construction of new basketball courts, saying that if the concerns had been heard earlier in the design process it would have been much easier to fit the courts in but given that the park was designed without consideration for them, there are limited options on where the courts can fit.
“We designed the park based on what we heard. If we would have heard this input we might have included basketball at that time,” said Lazzaretto.
Lack of forewarning was also addressed as a common concern by the people but nearby residents spoke on both sides of this issue, saying that there was both not enough warning ahead of time and that the process was executed fairly.
In a motion started by Councilman Roger Chandler of the 5th District, and passing by a 3-2 vote, the current plans to develop Eisenhower Memorial Park will stand and no basketball courts will be added.
However, in a last-minute motion by Mayor Verlato, funding will be provided to add fencing to the basketball courts at the nearby Camino Grove Elementary school which will allow the public use of them.