Letters to the Editor

Scale down proposed memorial at LBP

Friends of Luther Burbank Park would like to comment on the Reporter article regarding the proposed “Steve’s Place.” Our initial impression, when first hearing of the proposal for Calkins Point, was that the memorial would consist of a standard bench and plantings, items that fit within the Master Plan and the Parks Department’s own published policies. Only recently have we realized the plan consists of a 500-square-foot concrete patio and benches, as well as extensive plantings at the cost of $90,000-$95,000. 

The Parks Department’s policy to limit gifts in natural areas (open and green space) to wood benches and trees or other plant materials (section 3.10) is specific. If the city had a parks board, the procedural steps would have been clear. The board would have evaluated the proposal guided by the city’s parks and memorial policies and made suggestions to conform to policy, before referral to the Council parks sub-committee, and then to the City Council.

Our meeting with the Parks Department was to increase our understanding of the scope of the project, to bring our concerns to the table and to discuss the options. It was not meant to be open to others. We wanted to have an accurate description so we could survey our members and help create a consensus Friends position. (Early member feedback has shown 95 percent disapproval of a concrete installation and a deviation from the LBP Master Plan.)

Calkins Point is one of the loveliest and most popular and valued areas of LBP and is used not only by families, joggers, nature lovers and dog walkers, but is also home to a wide variety of wildlife — birds, beavers, turtles — in the wetlands and in the surrounding green space. This ecological balance is very delicate. 

In spring 2008, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, a paid contractor to the city, presented the Parks Department and Friends with its proposal to expand the eastern wetland buffer. This buffer would contain the proposed “Steve’s Place.” 

The proposed memorial by the Haba family includes a fundraising campaign with an active Web site before formal approval has been given. We feel that this project would set a precedent allowing individual citizens to lay claim to popular public sites for their own projects. It is not in the Parks Department policy to donate land to private memorials.

It is Friends’ hope that there can be a collaborative effort to enhance a natural buffer area with a scaled back installation, common in the park already. We are gratified to hear the Haba family would be open to such a creative process.

We trust all of us who love Luther Burbank Park and its serenity will find a way.

Marguerite Sutherland and Joe Wallis

Co-chairs, Friends of Luther Burbank Park

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