DOWNEY - Demolition of the old Smallwood transit yard which, with its parking lot occupied two separate acres overlooking dead-end Leeds Street at the northeast corner of 15-acre Apollo Park, paves the way for the eventual reconfiguration of the park that will include two new baseball and two new football or soccer fields, new walkways, new picnic areas and additional parking spaces.This at least is part of the vision of Councilman Mario Guerra who, at one point during his tenure, wondered if underutilized city property couldn't be put to better use. "I see it as a quality of life issue," he said at the photo-op Tuesday. "We should capitalize on using every available piece of public parkland," even as he boldly clambered up onto a giant CAT bulldozer equipped with a scooper and tried (rather successfully) to operate the controls. Councilman Dave Gafin also tried his hand at manipulating the CAT's gears. Others at the event were Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez, assistant city manager Gilbert Livas, assistant deputy city manager Scott Pomrehn, administrative assistant Juddy Ceniceros, and newly-hired public works director John Oskoui who was being shown around on his first day of office. The facility had been used in the past as a repair and maintenance facility, a bus depot, and a parking lot for public works vehicles as well as Dial-A-Ride. "We've been looking at city property that could be utilized to greater advantage," said Guerra. "We've been working on this for a while. Apollo Park is one of the most heavily used parks in the city, and an enlarged park will certainly give parkgoers more legroom and enhance their enjoyment. I'm glad we're moving in the right direction." A preliminary blueprint for the reconfigured park shows, besides the additional fields and parking spaces, etc., the snack shack moving to the middle of the park on the northern perimeter, upgraded restrooms and more. Actual demolition took place the following day, Wednesday. No definite timetable has been set yet for the reconfiguration although, Guerra said, work on it should begin towards the latter part of the year. The city has earmarked $500,000 for the purpose, he added, from Section 108 of federal grant money.
********** Published: July 8, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 12