Scores of residents take issue with park and restroom layout, cite “dangerous” position under Colorado Street Bridge
Published : Tuesday, August 28, 2018 | 4:39 AM
“How can you not solve the suicide problem on the bridge before you invite children to live underneath it?” This was the question posed to the Pasadena City Council by resident Bill Knopf, one of scores of residents who packed the Council chambers Monday evening to protest the location of the new Desiderio Neighborhood Park in the Arroyo Seco beneath the Colorado Street Bridge.
A new Habitat for Humanity housing development opened in June at the location. The accompanying neighborhood park, its playground and public restroom have brewed a tempest of protest.
Residents in the area say that last year six of the ten suicide jumpers who fell from the bridge to their deaths landed in the area of the proposed playground and bathroom.
Echoing Knopf’s sentiments, frustrated resident Ashwan Adarkar pointedly asked the Council, “What’s the point of public comment if you don’t listen to what we say, and you don’t act on it?”
Stressing the importance of the right decision in planning the new park, Adarkar said, “This has to be a success. If this is a failure, it will set housing back in this city.”
The community remarks were heard during the public comment portion of the City Council meeting since discussion of Desiderio Neighborhood Park issues were not on the formal agenda — that omission itself another contentious point to residents.
“Our voices are not being heard,” Vincent Montinelli angrily told the Council, speaking on behalf of a group of residents. “You say this matter will be on the agenda, but it never is.”
‘We are being silenced,” he continued. “There are flaws in this design.”
Residents also complained about the placement of the park’s proposed public bathroom, many complaining that it will attract “drug dealers.”
Montinelli told the Council that the planned restroom should be moved away from a nearby fence along Arroyo Drive, saying that the location is an Uber rideshare hotspot after Rose Bowl events and that “and people will climb the fence to use it.”
Following the comments, Councilmember Steve Madison asked City Manager Steve Mermell if it was “not too late for the Council to have another look at this issue.”
Mermell replied that a design review could be placed on an upcoming agenda.
Madison then asked Mayor Terry Tornek to do so.
The Colorado Street Bridge has been plagued by continuing suicides, prompting the City’s Colorado Street Bridge Task Force to direct the City’s Public Works Department to seek designs for vertical barriers for the fence as a more permanent prevention against suicide attempts.
The Public Works Department is actively pursuing such an effort.
No formal date was set for the new Desiderio Park discussion by the Council.