Big Investments for a School, a Church and a Park in NELA

2018 April Editions Front Page News

Benjamin Franklin High School in Highland Park, St. Dominic Catholic Church in Eagle Rock and the Eagle Rock Recreation Center have something in common. They are all on the receiving end of large sums, totaling some $5 million, to improve the buildings and spaces that support their work in Northeast Los Angeles. At Franklin and the Eagle Rock Rec Center, the money is from public funds; at St. Dominic, it is from fundraising within the congregation.

Here’s a rundown of the changes:

Retrofit for the main gym at Franklin High

Franklin High will receive $2.3 million in federal funds to retrofit the school’s 50-year old main gymnasium to current earthquake standards. The award was announced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Mar. 20.

The improvements, which are set to start on June 8, will include reinforcing the connections between the gym’s walls and roof, installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and replacing old asphalt and concrete. The gym’s bathrooms, showers and drinking fountains will also be updated.

Most of the money, nearly $1.8 million, will come from FEMA to meet  earthquake safety goals by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The the rest will be from federal grants secured by the LAUSD from a federal “pre-disaster” program to prevent irreversible catastrophes.

“Safety of students is the priority, so anything that improves safety is a step in the right direction,” said Regina Marquez-Martinez, the principal at Franklin. Ms. Marquez-Martinez also pointed out that the broader community has a stake in the retrofit because in a disaster, the retrofitted gym would be one of the safest places to seek shelter.

The challenge is to make sure athletic programs stay on track during the retrofit, which could take years. Ms. Marquez-Martinez is reaching out to local parks and schools about alternative gym locations. Franklin High also needs LAUSD to step up with paying for transportation to and from alternative sites.

Impressive fundraising for a renovation at St. Dominic

The official name of the building in the lower parking lot area of St. Dominic’s is the “Father Paul Scanlon, O.P., Community Center” named for the pastor who purchased the property in 1996. Use of the building has been limited over the years to providing day care for children and a meeting place for the Boy Scouts and various ministry programs.

Now, the 10,000 square foot Community Center is about to enter the second and final phase of a nearly $1.9 million renovation. The first phase, completed in February, transformed the auditorium on the second floor into a multi-purpose space, with state of the art audio-visual equipment for workshops, retreats, lectures, receptions, religious programs and other presentations. The next phase will redo the kitchen and add fully equipped meeting rooms, new bathrooms and an elevator.

Fundraising for the renovation began in 2015 and so far, pledges and donations from parishioners have come to $1.4 million. Efforts to raise the remaining sums continue.

The project is aimed at making the community center more useful for the parish’s evangelization mission, especially outreach to the parish youth, young adults and “un-churched Catholics,” said Greg Cornell, the Director of Development for St. Dominic.

Construction to begin on dog park in Eagle Rock

The groundbreaking for the dog park in the Eagle Rock Recreation Center has finally been set. It will be on Saturday, May 5. Can a ribbon cutting be far behind?

It has been seven years since dog lovers, community activists and businesses in Eagle Rock formed Dogs of the Rock to advocate for an off-leash dog park. They gathered thousands of signatures on a petition calling for a dog park, won seats on the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council to push for the park and had countless meetings with city officials.

It has been two years since José Huizar, the city councilmember for Eagle Rock, secured $800,000 in the city budget to build the park. The designs for the site, created by Craig Raines, a landscape architect with the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks, have been on the drawing board for a year.

If all goes according to plan, the park will be built by the end of October.

Matt Harrington, a dog trainer who has been a leader in the effort from the start, told the Boulevard Sentinel he is thankful the park is finally being built. But the moment is also bittersweet. Mr. Harrington’s beloved pit bull died three years ago. “I did this for him and he’s not here,” he said.

The Boulevard Sentinel asked Mr. Harrington if he had an idea for the name of the park. His reply: “The Dogs of Eagle Rock Park”

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