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Palmer Park could shorten hours to address neighborhood concerns

Palmer Park could shorten hours to address neighborhood concerns
Large crowds enjoyed the playground areas at the grand reopening of Palmer Park in January 2017. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

Last week, a special meeting of the Glendale Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission put forth suggestions that could quell the noise and security problems reported by neighbors about Palmer Park, which was renovated more than a year ago.

The 2.8-acre park, located in south Glendale near the Adams Square neighborhood, underwent roughly $3 million in upgrades and additions in 2016.

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The improvement project outfitted the park with a wading pool, a street skateboarding area, exercise equipment along the park's walking path and a basketball half-court. The park already had a full basketball court.

Palmer Park retained its original size but now includes improved restrooms, a larger community garden and more seating throughout.

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A report was prepared to address, collect and provide feedback to various calls and emails received from residents about issues with the park, according to Onnig Bulanikian, the city's director of community services and parks.

Most of the complaints this past year were over the basketball courts and skate park. During and after construction of the basketball half-court, about 10 residents complained that the associated activity would be or is too noisy. There were 14 calls from park-goers that court lights turned off too early, at around 8 p.m., even though the park closes at 10 p.m.

Regarding the skate park, one caller to the parks department said the skate area is overrun by teens, and younger children are pushed away.

Other complaints involved non-park users parking in the designated lot, reservations of picnic tables on weekends, which limit the use for others, and one instance of drug use. One city staff member observed children jumping on the the wading pool's cover.

To address concerns, parks staff members have reduced the hours for the skate park and basketball courts. Originally, they were open until 10 p.m., but they now close at 8 p.m., and signs were installed to notify park-goers of the change.

Those areas originally had light poles that had tinted surfaces to alleviate brightness issues. However, Bulanikian said the tinting was scratched off by individuals only weeks after installation.

Shrubs were planted on the south and west sides of the park to help muffle park noise, nylon netting was installed instead of a chain-link fence, and the Glendale Police Department was asked to increase patrols in the area.

Bulanikian also presented a report about police call logs for Palmer Park, which tallied incidents such as assaults, disturbances and municipal code violations. In 2017, 108 police calls were logged, eight fewer than in 2015, the last time the park was open for a full year.

Reports of "combative" disturbances led with 18 calls.

Still, when compared to the 11 other parks in Glendale, Palmer Park ranked fourth behind Pacific, Montrose and Verdugo parks in terms of police calls.

"Generally, Palmer Park doesn't generate more or less [problems] … than any other park — nothing truly out of the ordinary in any form or fashion," said Glendale Police Officer Steve Koszis during the meeting. "I know there are sensitive issues for some of the neighbors, but it seems to be a pretty normal park by observations."

A few options were presented to the commission, including closing the park at sunset or 8 p.m., removing the basketball half-court or staffing the park with personnel or security seven days a week. The latter would cost up to $40,000 and require council approval.

"We'd rather keep everything status quo and work with our police department on enforcement than closing the park [earlier]," Bulanikian said.

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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