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Santa Monica Has Designs on Their Own Central Park

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By Katherine Peach/Special to LAist

Attempting to match such iconic landmarks as New York’s Central Park or Chicago’s Millennium Park is no small feat, yet the city of Santa Monica is doing just that with an expansive park overlooking the ocean. City staff unveiled the near-finalized design for the Santa Monica Civic Center Parks combining three varied site plans and input from hundreds of residents since last July.

The project sites encompass roughly seven acres in the heart of Santa Monica, from the footsteps of City Hall to Ocean Avenue and from the 10 Freeway to the future Olympic Drive. The acreage focuses on circulation within the park, as well as elevated lookouts. The park is loosely divided into different sections to allow for specific activities, such as eating lunch near the reflective pool at City Hall and smaller, more intimate spaces for families and picnics.

Overnight camping will not be encouraged, a far cry from the nearby oceanside Palisades Park that draws tourists and homeless alike with its open space and scenic views.

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Designer James Corner of the New York-based design company James Corner Field Operations, has emphasized using native plant gardens and structural water features that are built to conserve water. With detail and practicality as a driving force, he admitted even the entrances are architectural planned to welcome visitors.

One of the more unique architectural elements is trellis lighting that snakes through the tree canopies creating a constellation of lights. The lighting element will accompany the sculptural look of sycamore and fig tree forests that create an organization of canopy trees. Trees and plants will be seasonal, native, and sustainable varieties.

The project is funded by $25 million of city redevelopment money— funds that are being threatened by Governor Jerry Brown. If state legislature abolishes redevelopment agencies, all the money will go to help cover the state budget shortfall, according to the Santa Monica Mirror.

To include your own input about the design and the future of the park, visit Santa Monica Civic Parks online to complete a survey and hear about community workshops.