Environment, Parks, Libraries

Landmark Sports and Academic Complex Planned in Carson

Some of the world’s biggest names in sports have teamed up with Los Angeles County to unveil their game plan for building a massive athletic and academic campus for underserved children in South L.A.

The Carol Kimmelman Athletic & Academic Campus is proposed to be built on a portion of what had been the Victoria Golf Course in Carson – spanning more than 80 acres and featuring up to 52 tennis courts, soccer and multi-purpose fields, and as well as state-of-the-art academic center with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The USTA Foundation – the United States Tennis Association’s charitable arm – and the Tiger Woods-founded TGR Foundation envision offering their programs at the campus at little or no cost to underserved local youth and families.

Rendering courtesy of The Carol Kimmelman Athletic & Academic Campus “This project brings great potential to transform an underused site into an unrivaled community resource that will benefit not just the South Bay, but the entire region.  Individuals of all ages could be enriched by the recreational opportunities made available at the Kimmelman Campus, and the STEM-based learning opportunities at the TGR Foundation would create an unrivaled educational opportunity for our youth,” said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The project was inspired by the passion and generosity of Carol Kimmelman, a California native who passed away in 2017. A member of the 1983 national champion USC women’s tennis team and former South L.A. elementary school teacher, she believed fervently in the power of tennis and other sports to transform the lives of young people from all backgrounds.

Two years after she lost her battle with cancer, her husband and four children are continuing her mission to make sports and education more equitable by opening this premiere center.

Doug Kimmelman, President of the Kimmelman Family Foundation, said, “Carol was passionate about the potential for children to learn important life lessons both in the classroom and on the tennis court or sports field. This exceptional, cutting-edge complex will be a safe place for young people throughout the region to experience these lessons firsthand, helping them achieve their full potential and opening doors throughout their lives.”

The USTA Foundation foresees establishing the West Coast hub of the National Junior Tennis & Learning program at the campus. NJTL offers tennis programs, youth services and college scholarships to more than 200,000 underserved youth around the country each year.

Additionally, the USTA Southern California Tennis Association intends to move their headquarters to the Campus and USTA’s Player Development division, which works to develop world-class American players, expects to make the campus its West Coast center of operations.

On the academic side, TGR Foundation – founded by golf legend Tiger Woods and his late father, Earl Woods – will oversee the Kimmelman Campus’ expansive 25,000 square foot learning center, which will be equipped with high-tech labs, classrooms, and interactive stations that encourage innovative and hands-on STEM learning.

“My dad helped me launch TGR Foundation over 20 years ago, inspired by our family motto of ‘share and care,’” said Tiger Woods, the philanthropist, entrepreneur and 14-time major champion. “Like Carol Kimmelman, Dad was dedicated to helping young people find their self-worth and confidence and I’m proud and honored to help her legacy live on. TGR Foundation is excited to be part of the Carol Kimmelman Athletic & Academic Campus, where we can continue to spread our mission of empowering students to pursue their passions through education.”

Dynamic tennis programming for children of all ages and abilities will be offered by both the SCTA and the USTA Foundation’s NJTL program on tennis courts spanning 29 acres, allowing more students throughout Los Angeles to grow and learn life lessons through the sport.

“This is the most significant undertaking by the USTA Foundation on the West Coast supporting our mission of combining tennis and education together to change lives,” said Chris Evert, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1 who was recently appointed chair of the USTA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By making high-quality tennis and educational opportunities available to all local children, regardless of income, this campus will provide a transformative experience for thousands of young people that inspires them to succeed both on and off the court.”

Already, the Kimmelman Family Foundation, along with the USTA Foundation, USTA, SCTA, and representatives of TGR have met with school district leaders, local community-based non-profit organizations, law enforcement officials, and business groups to collaborate on programs and opportunities at the Kimmelman Campus.

The County is also reviewing proposed plans for the remaining portion of the project to include other sports and recreation facilities, including up to eight full-sized soccer fields; two multi-purpose fields that can accommodate rugby and other sports; basketball courts; a sprint track; and training turf to promote active and healthy lifestyles for the entire community.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to formally consider a ground lease and associated environmental documents this Summer.

The Gateway at Willowbrook

Ribbon Cutting for the Gateway at Willowbrook, an affordable living development. All photos by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

The Gateway at Willowbrook: Before and After

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrated the grand opening of the Gateway at Willowbrook, an affordable living development with 105 apartments for seniors, including 22 apartments for seniors who had been homeless.

It is the County of Los Angeles’ first mixed-use development featuring apartments built on top of a public library

“The Gateway at Willowbrook marked the first time that Los Angeles County partnered with the private sector to provide not only housing but also a library,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is the epitome of what high-quality and affordable development and services can and should look like.”

Developed by Thomas Safran & Associates, the development features one and two-bedroom apartments designed to accommodate seniors ages 62 and older. Each apartment features wall-to-wall carpeting, vinyl flooring and a modern kitchen, complete with appliances.

The exterior facade of the new Gateway at Willowbrook.

The property is beautifully landscaped with an outdoor barbecue area and seating. There is also a spacious community room, computer room, fitness center, laundry facilities, and ]secured entry with intercom. Community movie nights, arts and crafts, bingo, monthly birthday parties, and more are provided by the onsite management staff.

As an added bonus, the newly built 8,0000-square foot Willowbrook Los Angeles County Public Library is located on the ground floor of the building. Within walking distance are the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus and the Willowbrook-Rosa Parks Station.

“This project truly serves as a new gateway into the neighborhood of Willowbrook, providing much needed affordable housing – and public gathering space – supporting the entire community,” Andrew Gross, President of Thomas Safran & Associates, said.


Kingdom Day Parade 2019

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas with street outreach workers and advocates at the 34th Annual Kingdom Day Parade. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

More than a hundred people on the frontlines of helping the homeless – from street outreach workers to advocates – joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the 34th annual Kingdom Day Parade, drawing grateful cheers and applause from the crowds in South Los Angeles.

On a day dedicated to paying tribute to the legendary civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supervisor Ridley-Thomas also found plenty of reasons to celebrate street outreach workers, who fan out across Los Angeles County every day in search of the homeless, build a rapport with them, and offer them a wide range of services, from healthcare to housing.

85 healthcare and housing workers join Supervisor Ridley-Thomas along the parade route. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

About 85 street outreach workers participated in the parade, many of them working for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the LA County Department of Mental Health or working for nonprofits such as HOPICS and St. Joseph Center, contracted by LA County Department of Health Services.

“I believe that involuntary poverty is a form of violence… and homelessness is the most extreme manifestation of involuntary poverty,’” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Together with these street outreach workers, let us all roll up our sleeves, open our hearts, and extend our hands to help our unhoused neighbors.”

United Way of Greater Los Angeles encouraged everyone watching the parade to join its Everyone In campaign, learn more about people experiencing homelessness, stay informed on supportive housing, and seek opportunities to attend community events and advocate for solutions in each neighborhood.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas with Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

The Kingdom Day parade marked what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday. It featured Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts as grand marshal, and the theme: “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Democracy.”

The parade traveled on MLK Boulevard, Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, ending with a festival at Leimert Park. Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on dozens of marching bands, floats, equestrian units, drill teams, dance groups, and dignitaries, including LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and LA City Police Chief Michel Moore, just to name a few.

Los Angeles Takes a Stand Against Hate and Racism

By Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
and Councilmember Marcqueece Harris-Dawson

In a moving and emphatic show of solidarity after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, hundreds of people from across Los Angeles County gathered for an interfaith worship service at the First AME Church. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

In a hate crime meant to instill fear and incite violence, vandals recently spray-painted swastikas across the faces of Black Panther women on a beloved South Los Angeles mural celebrating African-American history and achievement. A week later, another swastika was discovered in a bathroom at California State University, Northridge, this time with a threat: “Shooting in Sierra Hall 12/12/18.”

The chilling messages came in the wake of white supremacists committing mass murder against Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and against African Americans at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston.

A moment of prayer during the interfaith ceremony at First AME Church. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

Unfortunately, in the age of Donald Trump, racist and fear-mongering rhetoric have emboldened purveyors of hate once driven into the shadows by decades of civil rights activism and sacrifice.

The FBI recorded a 17 percent nationwide surge in hate crimes in 2017. Locally, the increase was 32 percent over the last four years, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Rights.

We’ve seen swastikas painted on synagogues in Woodland Hills, North Hills, Westwood, Woodland Hills, Hancock Park, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, and enough is enough.

When vandals defaced the mural that stretches along a block of Crenshaw Boulevard, a potent symbol of black pride entitled “Our Mighty Contribution,” it immediately drew strong condemnation.

The community activist who broke the story to the press sparked a national conversation.

The artist who painted the Black Panther women immediately removed the offensive symbols scrawled across their beautiful and fierce faces, and dozens of local residents came out to clean the surrounding neighborhood.

Holding hands in solidarity at First AME Church. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

How ironic that the vandals who sought to denigrate a community ended up uniting them instead. The mural remains a cultural anchor and a centerpiece of the Destination Crenshaw project to elevate Los Angeles’ African-American heritage.

Coincidentally, while the community was taking action in South L.A., a diverse group of more than 100 government, business, philanthropic, religious and civic leaders were participating in a Days of Dialogue event at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The theme of their discussion: “Reclaiming Civility and Tolerance in the Face of Violence.”

At Cal State Northridge an investigation is under way and patrols have been stepped up.

The university issued a statement condemning the hateful language in the strongest possible terms, and denouncing the threat against the community.

With a troubled history that includes the Chinese massacre and the Zoot Suit Riots, as well as the 1965 Watts rebellion and 1992 civil unrest, in which police brutality ignited powder kegs, Los Angeles cannot afford to take hate lightly.

We must be vigilant against efforts to tear communities apart by animating the hate in some people’s hearts.

In the aftermath of the attack on the mural, the city and county of angels lived up to their name.

Los Angeles rallied — and will continue to rally — against hate because, in the words of an old saying of the civil rights movement, “We are the ones that we are waiting for.”

Mark Ridley-Thomas is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors representing District 2. Marqueece Harris-Dawson is a member of the Los Angeles City Council representing District 8. This article is republished with permission from the Daily News.