The Political Race to take Credit for Preservimg Hazard Park (minus a united community)
Councilmember Leads Effort for Change to USC Plan at Hazard Park
(???????????????????)Councilmember Huizar has been instrumental in making sure USC engage with community members, residents and concerned citizens regarding the university’s plans to extend Norfolk Street through Hazard Park to Soto Street as part of USC’s Master Plan to expand its Medical Campus west of Hazard Park.
During early discussions with USC, Councilmember Huizar withheld his support for the project, asking university officials to first meet with residents, hear their concerns and more importantly, make a good-faith effort to act on those concerns.
At the Councilmember’s request, two Town Hall meetings were held at Hazard Park where residents and Hazard Park supporters spoke about the lack of an interactive relationship between the various surrounding eastside neighborhoods and the university, as well as concerns about the effects of cutting through the park and a lack of park and community improvements being offered in return.
Councilmember Huizar’s office and residents subsequently asked USC to consider alternative routes that would not cut through the park. In a meeting with Councilmember Huizar’s staff this week, USC proposed an alternative plan that would extend the street south of the park to Soto without cutting directly through Hazard Park.
This is an obvious improvement from what was first proposed and comes as a direct result of community input and good-faith pressure from Councilmember Huizar’s office.
While this is a significant and important first step by USC, Councilmember Huizar believes there is still room for improvement. He has concerns regarding parking and agrees with the community that more is needed in terms of community benefits.
He has asked USC to address these concerns and then take it back to the community to hear their feedback. In the coming days and weeks, Councilmember Huizar will continue to encourage and engage in dialogue among USC, the community and his office.
The Councilmember understands the social and cultural importance of Hazard Park. He will not support any project that undermines that.
However, if there is an opportunity to improve the park, while allowing USC to improve its campus and the community supports it, we should seriously consider it.