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Park opens to the public

Cedar Street site includes a house serving as a youth, family services center.

May 02, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

SOUTH GLENDALE — Glendale Heritage Garden will offer families and troubled teens a serene space amid a densely populated area where they can seek out social services, officials said.

The 23,430-square-foot mini park at 141 S. Cedar St. officially opened to residents Saturday morning, showing off its drought-tolerant plants, a modern jungle gym for neighborhood children and a restored 1913 Craftsman bungalow that houses the city’s Youth and Family Services.

“This is your park,” Dorothy Sharkey, a member of the city’s Community Services and Parks Commission, told residents. “This is your backyard, and we ask that you just watch it. Care for it.”


City staff with the no-cost social service program will link families and teens to community resources and provide intensive case management, Community Services Supervisor Walter Alvarez said.

“This is a great facility,” he said. “The kids don’t feel threatened. It is a home for them. It is a safe place for them.”

Some neighborhood teens like 15-year-old Itzel Mendez have already begun using the services, including homework help, tutoring and education workshops, offered at the home.

“It helps people, and it kept me out of trouble,” she said. “I was a big troublemaker, but now I got everything straightened out.”

Itzel said the program’s staff provided her with skills to stay out trouble.

Itzel and other teens also have been volunteering to maintain the park. They also help neighborhood kids with homework, which she said has helped some of the teens boost their grades.

“Our main function is to really get them involved in taking pride in their community, and they definitely have taken pride is this facility,” said Alvarez, the program’s supervisor. “They care for it. They keep an eye out for it, as well as the residents in the community.”

The program was housed at the park to provide services to students from Glendale High School and the surrounding area, said George Chapjian, director of the Community Services and Parks Department.

City officials want to expand the program, so they will continue to look for properties, including single-family homes, in south Glendale that could be home to new mini parks, he said.

Constructed with funding from the city’s Capital Improvement Program and Community Development Block Grant, city officials preserved one of the three old bungalows on the property.

When the city bought the property, officials opted to restore the historic Craftsman bungalow because the neighborhood had already been overrun with apartments, Councilman Dave Weaver said.

“We are getting fewer and fewer homes like this to preserve for our children and grandchildren,” he said.

Weaver was confident that teens and residents would use the home and park.

“We just can’t do enough of these parks for the community,” he said. “I know the people around here are going to use this considerably, which is great.”

Get in touch VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at

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