For the last 16 weekends, a handful of veterans have been gathering at San Vicente and Wilshire boulevards to protest the Veterans Park Conservancy's decision to develop a memorial park on this sixteen acre plot of land. The land was deeded as a "home" for soldiers, and the vets believe the land should solely be used for veterans and not open to the public. "Veterans returning from war need a quiet space like this" is the sentiment; one protester told me he believes the land could be used as a tent city for homeless vets. On the other side: Gary Maier, Board Member and Vice President of the Veterans Park Conservancy, who says his group fought off development of this land to keep it a memorial park; and he points out that "many memorial park in D.C. are open to the public." Maier: "I feel bad, but I don't understand what their intentions or counterproposals are."
Meanwhile, pending the improvements, the memorial park should open in the next two years if not sooner.
But David C. Crowley II, the Republican candidate who is running for Congress, has been making the park an issue; his take and the press release from the Veterans Park Conservancy (the other perspective) below.
From his web site, dated June 1:
"Rally at the corner of Federal, San Vicente and Wilshire to
protest the landgrab by Senator Feinstein, Congressman Waxman and
Assemblyperson Sue Young. They are trying to take land deeded to
Veterans in perpetuity and use it as a public park. Co-conspirators in this
act of theft are the Brentwood City Council and a private entity that calls
itself the Veterans Park Conservancy. Both believe that they have some
right to take land that isn't under their purview and use it for their own
dubious needs. There were reportedly (I have only heard this second- or
thirdhand) secret negotiations, kept out of the public eye. Among these
"negotiations" was a deal that makes this park for Brentwood rentfree for a
30-year period. Once again, our Veterans (and I am a Vet as well), are
getting shafted by Democrats who see no value in the sacrfices we make."
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Veterans Park Conservancy today announced it has signed a long-term agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs authorizing the development of a 16-acre memorial park to honor the nation's veterans.
The memorial park will be located on the historic grounds of the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the intersection of San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards.
Under the terms of the agreement, Veterans Park Conservancy is being awarded rent-free use and occupancy of the site for park purposes, in exchange for its pledge to make a substantial investment of private funds. Terms of the enhanced sharing agreement, negotiated with officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles and Washington, include a twenty-year term, with an option to renew for ten additional years.
"The signing of this long-term agreement represents the culmination of a relationship between Veterans Park Conservancy and the Department of Veterans Affairs which commenced in 1987. We are now able to create a lasting and dignified tribute to the men and women who have courageously served our country. The park will create a recuperative environment for veterans, as well as a respite for the community within a tranquil oasis amidst the urban bustle of densely developed West Los Angeles," said Major General Gwynn H. Robinson, U.S. Air Force, Ret., chairman and president of Veterans Park Conservancy.