Residents Suggestions for Pasadena Playhouse District Pocket Park Are All Over the Lot

First of three community meetings draws a wide range of ideas for features and programming; “This should be a park for people who don’t have yards”

Published : Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Dozens of Pasadena Playhouse neighbors and residents gathered Wednesday evening to weigh in on a new “pocket” park in the downtown Pasadena Playhouse District. It would be the first such park in Pasadena.

The Playhouse District currently has no substantial green open space.

“That’s a real particular issue here. We have a lot of residents moving into the district and certainly a lot of residents already living around the district in the downtown area and it’s already been established that there’s no open space — no place for them to gather, no place for business owners and workers to go take lunch,” Playhouse District Association Executive Director Brian Wallace explained in a previous story in this publication.

The triangle-shaped park, now two years in the planning, is bounded by El Molino Avenue on the west, Union Street on the south, and Oak Knoll on the east, and privately-owned commercial and apartment buildings on the north.

It would take up ? of an acre—approximately 100 by 330 feet—and would retain 48 parking spaces from the 101 spots in parking lots currently filling the location.

The Banner Bank building standing at the easternmost tip of the triangle is set for demolition to clear space for the parkland and its parking lot. The building was purchased by the City in 2018,

Following a brief greeting from Councilmember John Kennedy, Esmeralda Garcia, of design consultants MIG, told the audience at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church that there are currently no design plans in place yet as the meeting was structured to gather community ideas for features and amenities for what is being tentatively called Pasadena Playhouse Park.

“We’re starting with a clean slate,” said Garcia. “This is a visioning session.”

Garcia said the meeting would concentrate on vision, features and programming.

The get-together was the first in a series of three scheduled to gather, review and eventually present final design ideas for the new park.

At the upcoming November 12 meeting MIG representatives will present preliminary design ideas, and eventually return to the community on December 4, with more refined ideas to eventually present to City Council.

According to Public Works Department Principal Engineer Hayden Melbourne, the final plans would then be presented to the Recreation and Parks Commission for approval before being voted on by the full City Council.

Melbourne said he thought the City Council would likely vote on the final design by January or February 2020.

According to Melbourne, money has been budgeted for the design phase of the project, but not for construction, as there are no construction estimates yet without a formal design.

Discussing the vision for the park, Downtown Pasadena resident Jonathan Edewards acknowledged the surrounding neighborhood of apartments and condominiums, and said, “This should be a park for people who don’t have yards.”

Edewards also suggested not demolishing the Banner Bank building and building a restroom instead, and perhaps using the building rooftop as some type of play area.

Residents seemed somewhat split on the features of the park. While one asked for a quiet place to read, another asked for a half-court basketball court, and still another asked for a skateboard park. Another resident asked for safety fencing to keep children from running into the street, while one asked that there be no fences.

“It should be open to all,” she said.

Residents also asked for picnic tables, changing tables, doggie cleanup bag dispensers, native plants and shaded areas. Other considerations included flashing crosswalks, an embedded sound and lighting system for events, natural seating areas instead of chairs and benches, and an area for a farmers market.

According to City documents, project planning, environmental review and entitlements, as well as design development for the park will be completed in fiscal year 2020. Preparation of construction plans and specs, bidding and construction will follow in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

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