Palisades Park Advisory Board Approves $600,000 Veterans’ Garden Plan

By Sue Pascoe

A special Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board (PAB) meeting was held on Aug. 23 in order to vote on initial plans for the proposed $600,000 Veterans’ Gardens and bocce courts at the recreation center.

The PAB voted unanimously to approve the project, and recommended that the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks proceed with the plan.

The project area embraces the current picnic-table area just east of the rec center building, abutting the maintenance yard and the backyard boundaries of several Huntington homes, but stops short of the grass field used for PE classes by nearby private schools.

In addition to three bocce courts, six separate outdoor “living rooms” would be constructed. Five of them could interconnect, allowing for larger gatherings. The sixth would be without picnic tables, so that a bounce house could be placed on it for parties.

Palisades Park Advisory Members are (front row, left to right) Madeline Hyman, Janet Anderson, Mike Skinner, Lee Trask, Andy Starrels and Kirk Wendorf and (back row, left to right) Ken Spencer, Gustaf Soderbergh, Bob Harter, Rick McGeagh, Bill Maniscalco and Erich Haas. Maniscalco and Haas are non-voting members. Absent were Bob Benton, Lynn Hylen and teen member Hannah Megery.

Each of the five separate spaces would be dedicated to a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and an American Flag flown night and day at the entrance to that portion of the park.

“The flag would be perfectly lit and maintained,” said Bill McGregor of McGregor Brown and Co., who is serving the role of developer related to design and construction on a pro bono basis. He was a general manager for the Los Angeles World Trade Center and was involved in the lower Bel-Air Bay Club renovation project. “At the base of the flag would be a recognition of the American Legion.”

American Legion Post 283 has agreed to donate $400,000 towards the project, providing that the community raises the remaining $200,000.

A letter explaining the project and asking for support has already gone to Councilman Mike Bonin and L.A. Rec and Parks General Manager Mike Shull.

“I don’t anticipate any problems raising the money,” said PAB Board President Mike Skinner, who will also serve as chairman of the Your Palisades Park Improvement Corporation (YourPark), to which money can be donated for the project.

“You are to be congratulated for what you’ve done,” Skinner told McGregor, Bob Harter and Jimmy Dunne. “What you’ve done is amazing. I’ve been through the Field of Dreams and I know it’s not easy.”

This is an artist’s rendering of the proposed Veterans’ Gardens that would include bocce courts and picnic areas.

Skinner was a key leader in the construction of the four baseball fields at the park. He and his wife Carrie donated $10,000 for the architectural renderings and other expenses. Kurt and Haldis Toppel donated $10,000 for 50 percent of the construction drawings.

On July 22, the legion gave $20,000 to pay for current expenses on the project, according to a letter sent to Legion Commander Jere Romano.

The next step will be for the YourPark Corporation to provide the American Legion with a draft of the general contract that will include the conditions:

1.) $200,000 must be raised by the community; 2.) the name and final design must be approved by Post 283’s executive board and members, PAB and the board of commissioners of the Dept. of Rec and Parks; 3.) YourPark will obtain assurances the name will not change for a minimum of 30 years; and 4.) YourPark commits to disbursing the grant funds on an incremental basis upon the satisfactory completion of definitive construction milestones.

There was no timeline given for raising money. When asked about this, Harter said the group was waiting PAB approval on August 23 before starting the fundraising campaign.

The projected costs are about $133,000 for landscaping; $124,000 for walkways; $53,000 for picnic tables, benches and barbecues; $160,000 for the bocce courts; $50,000 for contingencies and $60,000 for three years of maintenance.

To learn more about the project and to donate, visit

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