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City wins grant to develop park

The half-acre parcel will add valued recreation space to a high-density neighborhood.

November 11, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

SOUTH GLENDALE — City officials on Thursday said they won a $1.7-million grant for a new park in one of Glendale's densest neighborhoods.

The money will completely fund the planned Maryland Avenue Park, which would be on a half-acre lot within the East Garfield neighborhood spanned by Glendale Avenue, Brand Boulevard, Chevy Chase Drive and Maple Street.

As a part of the larger East Garfield Neighborhood Revitalization Project, the park would be near the new 30-unit affordable housing development, Garfield Gardens.

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"This money will ensure that we can continue to provide more parks to the residents of Glendale, even in these tough economic times," Community Services & Parks Director George Chapjian said in a statement. "No further park-related bond measures have been proposed, so we are working to maximize every opportunity we have."

The grant means that city officials can move forward with plans to divert $1 million in capital improvement money slated for the park to fund three years of operations for the new civic pool at Pacific Park.

The City Council last week approved a construction contract for the pool, which is slated to open next summer.

The Maryland Avenue Park was one of 62 projects chosen out of more than 475 applications for the $184 million in state funding, which comes from a $5.4-billion bond approved by California voters in 2006.

South Glendale's abysmal proportion of park space, combined with the area's comparatively high number of low-income residents made the Maryland park a very competitive proposal, officials said.

"We were directed through legislation to make sure it went into areas where either there were park poor communities, at least less than 3 acres per thousand, or they came from low-income areas, with a median income less than $43,000," said Patti Keating, chief of the California State Park Department's Office of Grants and Local Services.

While the national standard for developed parkland is 10 acres per 1,000 residents — the city's standard is 6 acres — the area within a half-mile radius of the project site has only .29 acres per 1,000 residents, according to a city report.

Within the same radius, the median household income is $32,314, and more than 5,000 families live below poverty level, according to the report.

While the grant application process initially delayed moving forward with plans, parks officials now say they plan to push ahead to get construction started by fall 2011.

"We're moving along," said Marc Stirdivant, senior administrative analyst with the department. "And it's our plan to just go forward with our plans as quickly as possible now that we have the grant."

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