Environment, Parks, Libraries

New Park Along the Banks of Ballona Creek

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Continuing the renaissance of Ballona Creek, a new park has opened along its banks in West Los Angeles.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas dedicated the $4.2-million Milton Street Park next to a segment of the trail and bike path along the Ballona Creek, home to many varieties of wildlife and vegetation.

IMG_1794“For decades, the only way for people to experience Ballona Creek was to walk the trail or pedal on the bike path,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Until now, there were no opportunities to sit and take in the scenery. Milton Street Park changes all that.”

In addition to providing a safe new gateway to the trail and bike path, the park also features native trees and shrubs, water-smart irrigation and permeable walls. Other amenities include an outdoor classroom, interpretive displays, a drinking fountain, bike racks and decorative fencing.

Later, a “Green Street” will be added to clean and recycle storm water from the street before it drains into Ballona Creek.

IMG_1802The park sits on property owned by the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority (BHRCA), chaired by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

It will be a stop on the planned 13-mile Park to Playa Trail connecting the majestic Baldwin Hills to the Pacific Ocean.

Funding and other support for Milton Street Park came from the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, State Coastal Conservancy, Natural Resources Agency and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. The Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority constructed the park and will maintain it.

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24th Empowerment Congress Summit Draws 1,300

About 1,300 people participated in a meaningful dialogue about Los Angeles County’s crisis of homelessness at the 24th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit, and vowed to work together — as a community — in search of solutions.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas described homelessness as one of the most profound issues of our time, pointing out an estimated 44,000 people live on the streets or in temporary shelters on any given night.

“One out of every three homeless persons lives in the Second  District — over 14,000 men, women and children,” he said. “The most vulnerable — those with mental or physical disabilities, drug or alcohol addiction, women without family support — are the hardest hit.”

The summit coincides with the national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas recalled the legacy of the legendary civil rights leader.

“Dr. King’s words implore us not to harden our hearts in despair, cynicism and bitter resignation in the face of these challenges,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “He reminds us that it is our moral imperative to learn more about the homeless problem and to challenge ourselves to creatively respond and alter the systems causing homelessness in the first place.”

Actress Pauley Perrette, a longtime advocate for the homeless and star of the world’s highest-rated TV show, NCIS, also urged help for the homeless, saying we all “share a common humanity.” Although best known for playing the role of forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, she is also an ardent social and civil activist, involved in many charitable organizations.

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NCIS actress Pauley Perrette urges help for the homeless.

Founded in 1992 by then-Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Empowerment Congress is a national model of civic engagement and forerunner of the neighborhood council movement. It is a dynamic partnership among neighborhood groups, residents, nonprofit organizations, businesses, religious institutions and community leaders, built on the core principles of participatory democracy, reciprocal accountability, and intentional civility.

This year’s summit had the theme: Empowerment Matters: Building Stronger Communities. Speakers at the plenary session included California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Other speakers included Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Songhai Armstead, A Community of Friends CEO Dora Gallo, architect Michael Maltzan, Marquez Community Strategy founder Mercedes Marquez, and civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Cecil Murray.

The plenary session was followed by workshops on such issues as preparing for El Niño, the relationship between law enforcement and young men of color, mass transit as a vehicle for economic development, and the state of social justice in Los Angeles.

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Supervisor Honors Columnist Sandy Banks

Sandy Banks 1 (2)Saying she “inspired, educated and entertained readers for more than three decades,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented a scroll to Sandy Banks, who wrote her final column for the Los Angeles Times in December, after 36 years with the newspaper.

“Ms. Banks took us along for a journey in her 900-word columns on local and national issues, including health, education, foster care, criminal justice, politics and economic issues, and Los Angeles is all the better for it,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said during a ceremony honoring Banks at the Hall of Administration.

After receiving the scroll, Banks said, “It was a privilege to do the job. I came to see it as service.”

Banks joined the Times in 1979, and embarked on a career that included stints covering the education, religion, criminal justice and race relations beats. Aside from being as a reporter, she also served as an editorial writer, assistant metropolitan editor and director of the newspaper’s internship programs.

She was part of a team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Banks, however, is best known for her twice-weekly personal columns on the forces that shape public conversations and impact private lives.

In her final column, published December 26, 2015, she wrote, “I was the kid who asked too many questions and left no thought unexpressed. I never dreamed I could get paid for doing what came naturally.”

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Banks has three grown daughters and lives in Northridge.

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Inglewood and Los Angeles County Rejoice – Rams are Back

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas honors the city of Inglewood and Mayor James T. Butts, Jr. at Board of Supervisors Meeting on January 19, 2016.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors honored the city of Inglewood and Mayor James T. Butts, Jr. for their successful efforts to bring the NFL Rams back to Southern California after two decades. The Rams’ return to Los Angeles County will spur economic development in the city and for the entire region, creating thousands of temporary and permanent jobs.

“We’re proud of Inglewood to be the vessel that brings so much work and prosperity back to the region,” said Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Jr.

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Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, with Inglewood Mayor James Butts

NFL owners voted overwhelmingly to let the Rams return to Los Angeles after 21 years in St. Louis, and then gave the Chargers the chance to join the Rams. If the Chargers decide to remain in San Diego, the Oakland Raiders will get the option to join the Rams instead.

The Rams are building a $2-billion dollar stadium – to be called City of Champions Stadium – near the site of the Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood over the next three years. It would be the centerpiece of a massive entertainment, retail and housing development – not to mention the largest stadium of any team in the NFL.

“The $1.8 billion, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment stadium will have a profound impact on the economy of Inglewood as well as the regional community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.image3 (1) 

Promising to bring thousands of new construction and permanent jobs to local residents, the new stadium is but the latest example of the New Inglewood. Other notable accomplishments include:

• The complete renovation and reopening of The Forum as an internationally recognized entertainment venue operated by the Madison Square Garden Company.

• The $2 billion redevelopment of Hollywood Park into a mixed-use development with housing, open space and more than 600,000 square feet of shopping and entertainment.

• Construction of the $2 billion Crenshaw/LAX Transit line with three stations in Inglewood.

• And recently announced plans for market rate housing developments that will revitalize the City’s Market Street area to rival the Third Street Promenade.

“We know why Inglewood is known as the city of champions, because they got it done!” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

The Rams are not expected to play at City of Champions Stadium until the 2019 NFL season. In the interim, they are expected to play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park, home of the USC Trojans.

Last week, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher met with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who serves as president of the Coliseum Commission, the governmental entity that oversees the Coliseum. Fisher, a former Trojan, told Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, “All I need is a level field and some grass and we’re ready to play.”

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