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Two New Santa Monica Parks Win National Recognition

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Lookout Staff

January 27, 2014 -- Santa Monica’s two newest parks at the Civic Center are being recognized by a prominent national organization as “inspiring examples” of urban green spaces, City officials announced Friday.

City Parks Alliance, a national urban park advocacy organization, named Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square as “Frontline Parks,” saying they “exemplify the power of urban parks to build community and make our cities sustainable and vibrant,”

“We hope that, by shining the spotlight on these parks,” said Alliance’s Executive Director Catherine Nagel, “we can raise awareness about both the necessity and the promise of public open space to spur investment in our nation’s urban parks.”

Mayor Pam O’Connor called the national recognition for the two parks, which opened in September, an honor.

“Through creative use of space, the parks have transformed a flat asphalt lot into a magical oasis amid our urban environment,” O’Connor said in a statement.

The two parks, she said, “provide welcome respite and enhance the wellbeing of people of all ages – residents, visitors, and area workers alike.”

The Alliance’s recognition is not the first for Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square. In October, the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) gave the two parks its 2013 Project of the Year award for “Recreation and Athletic Facilities.”

Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square transformed 7.4 acres of at the old RAND site across from City Hall, adding some 300 trees, public art, a playground and fountains.

Designed by James Corner’s Field Operations, the internationally renowned landscape architecture firm, Tongva Park features seven entrances and a dramatic rising and falling topography meant to recall the Southern California arroyo landscape of washes and ravines. (“Tongva Park is a Unique Experience in Santa Monica,” September 10, 2013)

Ken Genser Square, located in front of City Hall, is much smaller and more formal than its neighbor and features a new plaza with seating areas and a water feature.

The Alliance’s recognition came one day after the California Association of Park and Recreation Commissioners & Board Members (CalParksBoard) recognized Santa Monica officials for their work improving greenspace in the bayside city.

The nonprofit organization named Parks & Rec Chair Phil Brock as Parks & Recreation Commissioner of the year for 2013 and applauded Santa Monica’s new “Universally Accessible Playground,” naming it the best special park project in the state.

Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight “inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country,” officials said.

The program also seeks to “highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay. “

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