First published in the Dec. 3 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
By Alexandra Applegate
The Glendale City Council approved the latest design plans for the Central Park Block Project as part of its ongoing efforts to create recreational opportunities and public spaces around the upcoming Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California, after six years of development and planning.
Near downtown and the Glendale Public Library, construction has already started on the AAMCCC, a cultural campus meant to share appreciation and education of the Armenian American experience. However, with the creation of this center within the Central Park Block, the city saw an opportunity to redesign and create new public spaces along Colorado Boulevard and Louise Street.
“The goal is to finish the project and coincide with the completion of the museum, or shortly before,” said Public Works Director Yazdan Emrani. Construction on the AAMCCC is expected to finish at the beginning of 2025.
Now, David Volz Design Landscape Architects Inc. will receive $1.5 million to complete the design plans presented to the council with specifications and an estimate for a construction contract.
The designs include a flexible green space south of the Glendale Central Library, known as the Great Lawn, which will house a lawn amphitheater as a small stage for special events. To offer more recreational activities, the city will establish a Children’s Play Zone with custom play equipment and a splash pad as well as a multi-generational game plaza. This area, between the library and Louise Street, would also preserve existing trees to create a shady Forest Walk.
Looking to expand public areas in and around the AAMCCC, the city hopes to provide an accessible sloping walkway and stairway to connect the Brand Boulevard paseo and the park. The library will also get a new set of steps that will act as a patio for people to read or look over the open space.
Finally, the designs will manufacture more accessible drop-off and parking areas in front of the Adult Rec Center on Louise Street and calls for sculptural walls, gardens and planting areas to frame the center and library.
This project will nearly double the amount of open space in the Central Block Park by converting the adjacent parking lot into green space, which addresses some of the community’s concerns over losing park space to build the AAMCCC.
The council was concerned about the palm trees within the park, citing the plant’s lack of benefits regarding shade and carbon capture. Staff was directed to look into the cost of removing the palm trees from the Central Block Park and replace them with native, shady plants.
Residents will soon be able to pay for parking and extend their time at any of Glendale’s parking meters through an app or website from PayByPhone, after the City Council unanimously passed the agreement.
“This solution will provide contactless or touchless payment option as well as a credit card payment options through the customer’s cell phone for all citywide parking meters, both of which the public has increasingly asked for,” said Tad Dombrokski, the city’s parking manager.
The meters themselves will not change, so residents can still use coins or a debit or credit card if they desire.
With the app, residents will be able to find their location through designated zone numbers, meter numbers or on a map. The app does not require you to make an account and you can log in through Facebook, allowing quick and easy payment.
“This is exciting,” Councilman Daniel Brotman said. “This is something we’ve all been waiting for.”
Once paid, residents will also receive notifications reminding them their time is up and potentially letting them pay for more time, depending on the parking spot’s time limits.
While the program will be set up in English, PayByPhone will add Armenian language settings within a year. The mayor also asked the contractor to look into adding Tagalog and Korean to the roster of languages on the app.
PayByPhone will receive 30 cents for each transaction and the city will spend an additional $80,000 to raise awareness of the new program for signage and outreach.
Three crosswalks in Glendale will soon showcase colorful and vibrant designs to improve pedestrian safety and driver awareness. This pilot project is incorporated into an improvement project in the Adams Hill neighborhood as well as the Broadway Rehabilitation Project.
Painted, high-visibility crosswalks can reduce pedestrian collisions by drawing attention to the crosswalks to drivers, according to city staff.
“The whole goal of this project is to tighten the intersection to improve safety for all modes of travel, particularly the pedestrians who use these critical junctures,” said Sarkis Oganesyan, deputy director of Public Works.
The first intersection, Adams Street and Palmer Avenue, will be painted with green, maroon and light pink stripes and painted bump outs. The design, “Where We Meet,” was created by Keith & Co.
At Broadway and Columbus Avenue north of the Glendale Galleria, a funky geometric design called “Chemical Stain” with light purple, tan and burnt orange shapes will decorate the intersection. And Broadway and Galleria Way will showcase a light blue and orange fish scale pattern, aptly called “Fish Scales.”
Though the program passed, Mayor Ardy Kassakhian voted against the measure after saying he was underwhelmed by the selected designs.
“None of these really tell the stories of place or people that make up this community,” Kassakhian said. “It’s better than what we have, but it could’ve been something outstanding.”
These designs will only be applied to three intersections in Glendale, to kick off an effort to paint more crosswalks to make city streets safer.
“There’s no shortage of crosswalks and paint isn’t that expensive,” said Councilman Ara Najarian. “Let’s just try everything and be broad in our attempts.”
Staff was directed to look into more artful or cultural designs for future crosswalks. These initial three designs are expected to be implemented by next summer.