A little over a year ago, Monteith Park in the View Park-Windsor Hills area of Los Angeles, had inadequate lighting and little sense of neighborhood engagement. But today, thanks to the work of three residents who decided to take back their community park, Monteith is a brand new place with movie nights, concerts and the proposed site for a temporary art installation.
The transformation was inspired by three residents, Pernell Cox, Sovonto Green and Jeff Haber. Cox, a father now in his mid 30s, grew up in Inglewood and moved to View Park in 2011. He lives just down the street from Monteith Park with his wife and one-year-old daughter and was appalled at the way the park had been neglected.
“My hope for the park was that it continue to be utilized by residents for both formal and informal gatherings,” he said. “I wanted to see more county sponsored programming.”
And so, he reached out to the office of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the area. Representatives from the Second District office served as facilitators in connecting Cox with other county departments, including the L.A. County Arts Commission, that could pitch in to reinvigorate the park. Cox also joined residents Jeff Haber and Sovonto Green at a community meeting at the park. They began showing up regularly at monthly Sheriff’s Department meetings.
“I asked questions, and I took people up on their invitations,” said Cox. “The more I showed up, the more they showed their appreciation by being more responsive.” The Sheriff’s Department responded by increasing patrols.
“We’re going to put some flood lighting in dark areas and additional lantern lighting,” said Joe Mendoza, Deputy Director for Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve also purchased new benches, trash receptacles and lighting fixtures.“
Programming in the park has increased especially during summer months with movie nights and an upcoming August 25 jazz concert. Also, the Arts Commission was engaged to facilitate a temporary art installation.
“The movie nights, jazz concerts, and this artwork are all products of their desire and initiative to make good things happen,” said Erin Harkey, Civic Art Project Manager for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
During community meetings with the Arts Commission, residents talked about block parties, sharing fruit with their neighbors, about their kids, their homes and about their wish to have interactive artwork at the park.
“It very positive to have this kind of participation from community members,” said Mendoza. “It’s been a real group effort.”
Indeed, Cox said he hardly recognizes his neighborhood.
“As a result of our efforts, there is more programming in the park, a stronger partnership with our law enforcement and a stronger sense of community,” he said. “People are stopping me and saying, ‘hi.’ Now we start conversations in our community. And we act more neighborly.”
More information about View Park, visit www.viewpark.org, a website powered by community members and for community members.