Mayors' Discovery Park plaques honor mayors

There's one more new thing to discover at Mayors' Discovery Park this week.

Now, in addition to seeing ceramic sea creature sculptures in the water fountain and digging up a lost city under the sandbox, visitors to the park on Foothill Boulevard can learn the names of each of La Cañada Flintridge's past 12 mayors, from since the city was incorporated in 1976.

Bronze plaques telling the former mayors' names and years of mayoral service to the city were added to a concrete sound wall on the south side of the park, which lies adjacent to the onramp to the Glendale (2) Freeway. The plaques — which cost $5,600 and were paid for through contributions from the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, La Cañada Flintridge Kiwanis and A.M. Kiwanis, Rotary Club and individual donations — will be officially unveiled at the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce mixer, at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 18, at Mayors' Discovery Park.

“It's great to have a way that everybody can look at our roots like this,” Mayor Dave Spence said of the plaques. “It's extremely important because it gives the children of our community a way to see a historical connection to the founding of our city. It took a lot to get where we are today.”

The former mayors' plaque project has been in the works for about one year and is the brainchild of longtime La Cañada resident Margaret Pankratz and a committee composed of her friends, Joy Gifford, Maxine Reilly, Pat Anderson and Joy Wilson. Pankratz has long been involved in several civic capacities and also was an instigator of naming the park, about three years ago.

“I just felt like this was something that needed to be done,” Pankratz said of the mayor plaques. “This is really important, and so meaningful.”

Her original plan was to do a project to honor four of the mayors who had died. “But then I realized we had to do something for all of them; they all did a lot for our city,” she added.

The parkland previously was owned by Caltrans and used as a park and ride lot. When Caltrans decided to make it surplus property, the city purchased the land and current city manager Mark Alexander worked with a committee to determine a use for it. After about eight years of planning, paperwork and decision-making, the park opened with a joint use agreement with the neighboring La Cañada Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through the agreement, the church's ballpark can be used for city/community activities and events on specific days of the week and the city maintains the park and ball fields, Alexander said.

Honored on the 4-inch-by-8-inch plaques are: George Parrish; O. Warren Hillgren; Michael Mount; Edmund “Ed” Krause; Barbara Pieper; Thomas Curtis; J. Bixby Smith; Joan Feehan; John “Jack” Hastings; James Edwards; Carol Liu; and Anthony Portantino.

Pankratz is working on compiling a booklet that will provide biographical information on each of the former mayors. However, she said, it won't be completed in time for the plaque unveiling. When it is finished, the booklet will be kept at the Lanterman Historical Museum, 4420 Encinas Drive, La Cañada.

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