Let’s face it, Malibu as the manifestation of a city, a town, a village, or however described, is a mess.
Of course, there is the ocean. There are concerns about water quality, access and views, but it perseveres.
The PCH is a perplexing problem, and will be forever as long as people drive.
The Civic Center is definitely not civic or centered, rather several disconnected shopping malls, and an isolated library and city hall.
And in the marrow of this mess is Legacy Park, my latest commentary heard on 97.5 KBU, and everywhere on radiomalibu.net
An anxious Cultural Arts Commission and entangled City Council are waiting for a team of consultants to come back with a detailed plan for revitalizing the 17 acre expanse. In the interest of accuracy the word should not be revitalizing, because the overgrown area of undergrowth has never been vital and not particularly friendly or frequented.
Less we forget, it is in fact the earthen roof of a city blessed water treatment plant serving the adjacent high-end stores and pricey residences, packaged by avaricious real estate interests and sold to an undiscerning city council. Some have labeled it perhaps more accurately as the leech field, and with derision, Lunacy Park because of the thinking by the city that hyped its approval.
It is most certainly a design challenge, worthy of the consultant team of Hodgetts and Fung with an assist by Calvin Abe landscape architects, which recently presented a rough draft plan to the commission.
Displayed and illustrated by select photographs was an array of sketchy alternatives. They included expanded water features, functional art works, and a web of pathways to the adjacent library, country mart, city hall and the proposed Santa Monica college extension.
It was very much a laundry list of features, which some felt were too art and urban oriented. Reiterated by several commissioners was that the park should be as natural as possible, consistent with an ecological theme appealing in particular to locals and children. The commission gave its preliminary approval, but directed the consultants to go back to the drawing boards, and return in a few weeks with a more focused plan.
This also gave me some time to walk the forlorn site, keeping in mind its constraints of no structures or ball fields, which had been negotiated away by a past council. The challenge is somehow craft it to be local and green, with a smattering of art.
As I wandered I recalled the sage advice of a landscape architect I once worked with, Dan Kiley, who said a site will tell you what it wants to be. Just pick up some soil, rub it, close your eyes and think how the site be used
The vision that appeared was a community garden, a collection of small plots tended by locals, producing an abundance of vegetables, fruits and flowers, for themselves and for sharing, connecting to the environment, and each other in a singular commonalty, sustaining the park with people and purpose.
As for the art the commission would like, it can mark the gateway to the garden, the seating, or lighting, things that can be used use and delight us. And given its size, there also could be room for a passive, wildlife friendly native landscape, and perhaps a dog park, hopefully better designed than the one at Trancas Canyon. Maybe also a multi use field, if the city could find a legal loophole through the constraints.
But the focus of Legacy I feel should be a community garden.
Think about it; envision it.