Walt Disney construction debate continues in Glendale

Angry residents told Walt Disney Co. executives Wednesday they want to be compensated for the construction impacts of a childcare center on the studio's massive campus.

About 20 residents Wednesday night met with a half-dozen Disney representatives and an equal number of city officials at the Glendale Environmental Management Center, a short distance from the recently completed childcare center for 236 children on Flower Street between Paula and Davis avenues.

Residents aired concerns about damage to their homes, noise, traffic and what they said was the unresponsiveness on the part of Disney, Whiting-Turner Construction Co. and city officials during months of construction.

"You failed," said Jennifer Pinkerton, president of the newly-formed Grand Central Neighborhood Assn. "It was Construction 101, and you failed."

Ed Chuchla, Disney's senior vice president for corporate real estate, generally declined to go over what happened in the past, but said his company would address every concern.

"I promise that the Walt Disney Company wants nothing more than to have world-class experts look into every claim you've made," Chuchla said. "If there is a problem we caused, we'll repair it, you bet."

The most heated topic during the 90-minute meeting was Disney's plans to choose a third-party expert to assess claims that heavy construction and soil preparation caused damage to the walls and brick facades of nearby homes.

"If I damaged a Disney building, you'd let me hire the expert to say how much damage I did?" Shara Versweyveld asked.

She and others said they wanted to choose the engineering firm, but Chuchla said the studio didn't think that was reasonable.

Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who was at the meeting, suggested residents meet first with Disney's engineer and express their concerns. Once they see the results, they could decide whether to take further action.

Pinkerton said the noise during construction was intolerable, and chastised Disney and the city over what she said was their failure to monitor the noise. She noted that noise monitors were located at a distance from the high-impact areas, and expressed disappointment when city representatives said Glendale does not actively visit sites to test noise levels.

"What is the point of having the ordinance if there is no measurement, no oversight?" she asked.

Residents said noise and vibrations disturbed their sleep and work they do at home.

"We think we deserve financial compensation for the hell we were put through," Pinkerton said.

Chuchla emphasized that Disney seeks to be a good neighbor as it develops the 125-acre creative campus.

"Maintaining a long-term, respectful relationship with our neighbors is important to us, not only in Glendale, but everywhere we do business," he said.

Pinkerton also suggested the city install stop signs at two intersections and consider other steps to ease the impact of the childcare center.

Chuchla said Disney would support the traffic changes, and even offered to pay for their permits should the city agree to designate the area for permit parking only.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World