What Will The New Union/El Molino Park Look Like?

Dog Park? Playground? Swings? Garden? Neighborhood association urges neighbors to pitch ideas at City meeting today

Published : Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | 5:39 AM

An on-again-off-again proposed triangular “pocket park” at Union Street and El Molino Avenue is back on the table and heading towards reality, and local residents are invited to a community design meeting Tuesday to throw their design ideas into the ring.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church at 585 East Colorado Boulevard. Representatives from design consultants MIG, will present ideas culled from previous meetings and ask for feedback

The proposed park’s location 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 2/3rds of an acre—approximately 100 by 330 feet—and would relocate up to 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 will be demolished to make room for the park’s parking lot. The building was purchased by the City in 2018.

The parking area may be designed as flexible event space so that farmers markets, festivals, arts and craft fairs and the like could be held on the lot.

According to DPNA president Jonathan Edewards, the park was originally conceived in 2010 as a cover to an underground parking lot to replace the existing parking lot.

When grant funding for the project failed, the City Council “never really stepped up,” said Edewards, but the DPNA continued to push to make it happen.

The DPNA then tried to reach consensus with local business owners, always loath to give up any parking space, said Edewards.

Eventually they reached an agreement with City Council in March, and the City Council agreed to fund design plans for the proposed park, initiating the community input phase.

But, according to Edewards, much of the community discussion has centered around two contentious issues — parking and public bathrooms — issues he would like to move past. Thus, the park will retain the 48 parking spaces, allowing the project to move into the next discussion phases — amenities and programming.

And what about bathrooms? As Edewards told Pasadena Now Monday, “Bathrooms are not really an amenity. People do not go to the park to use the bathroom really. They go to the park, and while they’re at the park, they may have to use the bathroom, and we may or may not need to accommodate that.”

“But if we all show up,” he continued, “and argue about whether we need a bathroom, we don’t need a bathroom, then we’re wasting our time when we should be talking about ‘Do residents need a space to let their dogs run free? Do they need a playground? Do they need a basketball court? Do they need picnic tables? How about barbecue grills, you know, what do we want?’”

Following Tuesday’s meeting, MIG will 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 recently 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.

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