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Audubon Center at Debs Park struggles to connect with ethnically diverse neighborhoods

Audubon Center Director Marcos Trinidad | Brenda Rees

“We’re doing everything we can” – Audubon Center Director Marcos Trinidad | Brenda Rees

MONTECITO HEIGHTSThe Audubon Center at Debs Park isn’t working out as planned, according to the L.A. Times.

Built in 2003 on a hillside east of the 110 freeway in Debs Park, the $6.5-million center was supposed to appeal to ethnically diverse neighborhoods across the Eastside and beyond. But critics say the center has fallen short of that goal, saying the problems are partially the result of failing to involve residents in the planning process. In addition, the solar-powered center has been prone to costly breakdowns, and, because of budget cuts, all the programs and trails are now managed by only three staff members.

“Audubon felt that if it plopped this thing down, people would come and donations would pour in. That didn’t happen and it went to pot because it failed to involve communities in the planning process.” — Adan Ortega, chair of Mujeres de La Tierra and a former member of the National Audubon Society’s board of directors

While acknowledging problems with the neighbors, Audubon officials said they are considering ideas on how to connect better with the community, including plans to share the facility with other organizations and open the place for public gatherings as well as wedding ceremonies.

“We’re doing everything we can,”  new director Marcos Trinidad told the Times.

Read the full story in the L.A. Times.

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7 comments

  1. The L.A. Times, as usual, failed to compose a complete story. Even powerhouses like The Huntington and Descanso struggle to keep younger patrons engaged. And a lot of their newer installations have nothing to do with nature and instead make for a good instagram post. I would argue that most people would have to look up what the word “Audubon” means? Why not call it the Urban Nature Center? And not everything in northeast LA is a ethnicity/class issue, please..

    • At this current point in time, where journalism is effectively dead (I may be the only person I know under 30 that actually reads online news other then facebook) the only way they can get any clicks/reads is to turn literally every issue into a race/gentrification/class issue. They of course don’t care about the collateral damage this causes by disturbing communities. It’s all about the clicks.

  2. Er, both of you are saying race/class has absolutely nothing to do with it? Okay.

  3. We used to go to Sycamore Park when we were kids all the time for birthday parties, 4th of July, and for events they held at the outdoor theater. On really hot summer days we used to get wet in that silly cement water park they had. I still see people having birthday parties and playing soccer there. There are more than enough parks where the grounds can be utilized in this way if that is what the critics are setting up Debs to become. What we are sorely lacking are places like Debs that preserve nature and wild life while offering up a quite place to get your head together – can’t to that at Sycamore (too many screaming kids and loud music). I don’t know what annoys me more: that someone thought we needed yet another excuse to divide us (when racist parks attack); or worse, someone thinks that a “culturally diverse” person can’t appreciate and enjoy Debs. Either way, I’m done with these fake, non-news items that seek to cause trouble where non exists. L.A. Times sure is desperate for readership these days.

    • There is a lot of wildland space in the Los Angeles area. Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area is 245 square miles and the Angeles National Forest is over 1000 square miles. The tiny little pocket wildness parks are just poorly maintained vacant lots filled with poison oak and hazardous, deteriorating trails.

      • You feel the same about Griffith Park? Also, think about low income kids who’s family doesn’t have a car…..they sure as hell aren’t going to the Santa Monica Mtns. for a picnic.

  4. it's bob we-had-a-baby-it's-a-boy

    This didn’t work out “as planned” for the same reason you don’t see a whole foods or even a Ralph’s or Von’s in south central LA. It’s not because the companies that run these brands are racist (as some would prefer to believe) but rather the demographics simply do not serve their business model. This park is very hilly with trails and nature- No room for bouncy castles.

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