Parks and Open Spaces Task Force Push for More Parkland in Temple City

The City of Temple City may soon be acquiring more land for pocket parks if the recommendation from the Parks and Open Spaces task force committee is adopted.

Since July 2007, the Parks and Open Spaces subcommittee has been working on recommending new strategies to increase the amount of parks around town. For months, volunteers have been developing ideas in order to assist with the modernization of the city’s General Plan.

At a joint meeting of the Planning commission and Parks and Recreation commission on November 27, 2007, the Parks and Open Spaces task force committee encouraged the Planning and Parks and Recreation commissions to establish new rules for the General Plan regarding “purchasing property” for new pocket parks in residential areas and “incorporating parkland and open space” into future commercial projects.

Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Burroughs stated the Parks and Open Spaces first recommendation was to increase parkland.

Unlike parks such as Live Oak Park, pocket parks are purposed to provide a small area where people can relax enjoy themselves, such as the one in front of the Temple City public library. The sizes are to be a minimum of one quarter of an acre (1/4), preferably in a high residential density zone.

Eaton or Arcadia Wash, existing parks or public school fields are targeted areas, as well as small open areas in downtown Temple City. An area near Oak Avenue intermediate school was considered, but planting grass as well as buying the property was too pricy.

The question of whether restrooms are necessary in pocket parks was discussed. Because people tend not to stay long in pocket parks, building restrooms would be an unnecessary financial burden, in addition to occupying land. Pocket parks will still include picnic tables, benches, barbeque stands, playground equipment or play areas, lighting, and/or tennis and basketball courts.

Community Development Manager Joe Lambert stated the Parks and Open Spaces task force committee’s second recommendation was to establish guidelines for new developments to include parkland.

A recommendation was made that all new commercial developments on properties ½ acre or larger shall reserve at least 5% of its land for public open space. Ideas included an arcade style walk with trellises, decorative benches, and rose gardens. Alternatively, a developer could pay an impact fee, such as $10,000 for every ½ acre of lot size if the 5% requirement is not met.

After the presentation by the Parks and Open Spaces task force committee, the commissioners from both the Planning and Parks and Recreation commission debated over the recommendations. Planning Commissioner Vincent Yu suggested ADA (American Disabilities Act) parking should be added. Planning Commissioner Seibert asked that eminent domain be included in the recommendation.

Finally, Planning Commissioner Carl Blum stated individual donations, state and federal grants, are other options for funding to expand parkland in Temple City.

The Parks and Recreation and Planning commissioners decided on targeting an acre of parkland in two years and so forth expanding the land until after give years. The goal is to eventually gather ten acres for a park.

Both commissions accepted the Parks and Open Spaces task force recommendations with amendments added: ADA parking, eminent domain, utilizing individual donations or state or federal grants, and not having restrooms in pocket parks.

The recommendation was unanimously approved by the Planning and Parks and Recreation commission. Parks and Recreation commissioner Cynthia Sternquist was absent.

 

This article was written by Charlene Choo. It was published in the Temple City Voice on April 16, 2008.

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