City enters design phase for Legacy Park

The city must raise $2.5 million in private donations for the project, which will cost an estimated $12.5 million.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

City officials and consultants are preparing a plan to design and raise money for the Legacy Park project. The plan will cost an estimated $12.5 million, with most of the money coming from state grants and loans. But the city says it must obtain $2.5 million in private donations, just as it did to raise the money to purchase the Chili Cook-Off site.

A final design for the project is far from ready, but Malibu Grants Coordinator Barbara Cameron said if all goes smoothly, a proposal with an environmental impact report could be ready for public review by December. The basic plan is to include the future Legacy Park (the recently purchased Chili Cook-Off site) as part of a wastewater/storm water treatment program, while making the park a traditional leisure area for walking and occasional events.

“I think it will look very much like the conceptual drawings, with open green space areas where people can enjoy six events a year and walk around, including trails so they can reach surrounding shopping centers,” said Councilmember Sharon Barovsky, who, along with Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, is heading the fundraising effort along with several citizens and the city’s public relations officer, Susan Shaw.

Last month, several city officials went to Sacramento to promote the project. They said there was much interest in it. Although most of the state agencies that could give grants to fund the effort have voting boards that must approve any transaction, Cameron said they received optimistic responses from many of the staff members who make the recommendations to those boards.

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“We had discussions with the granting agencies that have been very receptive to our request for consideration, and we are working with them,” Cameron said. “We must figure out which grant programs work best and fit our project, and the timing of it.”

Cameron said the city will begin applying for grants in the spring, but some of the granting agencies require a completed environmental impact review before they will consider a project, so applications for those grants could not be made until at least next year.

The city also might apply for what is called the State Revolving Fund Loan Program. This involves a small interest loan that would be paid back by those hooking up to the wastewater treatment system, including local businesses and the city.

Last month, focus groups consisting of local government and neighborhood leaders met to discuss concepts of how the park should look. A final idea for the project could be ready by March. This will be followed by a series of public workshops hosted by the City Council and the Planning Commission. After an EIR and final design is issued by the city staff and consultants, public hearings will take place, with the project needing final approval from the City Council.

Meanwhile, Shaw said she has begun having discussions with potential private donors about contributing toward the project. She was able to raise $2.5 million through private donations toward the city’s $25 million purchase of the Chili Cook-Off site from the Malibu Bay Co. However, $500,000 of that came from local developers who paid the money in exchange for settling their wastewater issues, and another $500,000 came from a local nonprofit group, the Malibu Coastal Conservancy, which is often at odds with the city government.

“We’re looking for all the prior donors to help us in our efforts, people like Mark Burnett, who was generous with his contribution,” Barovsky said. “We’re hoping they’ll all join the party. We had so many people that stepped up to the plate. I have no reason to believe they won’t do it again.”

Mayor Ken Kearsley said he also expects the city will receive money from those who did not help with the Chili Cook-Off site purchase.

“Last time we had a hard sell, asking people to buy raw land,” Kearsley said. “Now we have something, and it is about being able to do something special with the land.”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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