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WeHo councilman wants controversial Plummer Park building renovated

A 75-year-old building in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park whose fate has been a subject of dispute for more than two years should be promptly repaired and reopened, a City Council member said.

Mayor Pro Tem John D’Amico will propose a plan for the park's Great Hall/Long Hall building -- a community center built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression -- at a City Council meeting Dec. 2, his office announced Monday.

The building, which was approved this year for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, was to be bulldozed as part of a $41-million renovation of the park that was put on hold after community objections and the loss of redevelopment funds.

Under the renovation plan, the Great Hall/Long Hall would have been demolished during construction of an underground parking garage and replaced with open park space, which some City Council members say is sorely needed in the densely populated city.

D’Amico’s proposal will call for immediate repairs to Great Hall/Long Hall’s roof and for the installation of a plaque on the building noting its historical designation, officials said. He also will propose that the building be used as a rehearsal space for nonprofit theater companies, a meeting space for community groups and a studio space for local artists.

“I have a sense that some of my colleagues may be squeamish about this vote,” D’Amico said in a statement. D’Amico said the building should be reopened even while city officials consider larger plans for the park.

“Running out the clock on this historic building by leaving it unattended when there is a deficit of community space is not acceptable,” he said.

The City Council in April voted 4-1 to oppose the building’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, with members saying they wanted the flexibility to raze the building to add green space. D’Amico cast the dissenting vote.   

In a speech preceding that vote, Councilman John Heilman called for the building to be demolished immediately, saying that its courtyard “smells like urine all the time, no matter how much we try to clean it” and that the building and courtyard have to be locked during the day because they are a “chronic source” of criminal activity.

“I’m embarrassed as a city when we have meetings in there,” he said, calling the building a "terrible" place to work.

The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July.

Stephanie Harker, who lives across the street from the park and spearheaded a campaign called Protect Plummer Park to stop the city’s plans, said she has taken photos of the building’s deteriorating roof to numerous meetings.

Harker said she was pleased by D’Amico’s proposal.

“It’s exciting that the city of West Hollywood is looking to preserve their national treasure,” she said. “It’s heartening to see City Hall listened to the community and wants to preserve the WPA buildings.”


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