Columbia Park

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4th Annual Torrance Cherry Blossom Cultural Festival

These photos were taken Sunday, March 15 at the 4th Annual Torrance Cherry Blossom Cultural Festival, which was held in the southeast corner of Columbia Park in Torrance. The free, family friendly event was sponsored in part by the City of Torrance, the North Torrance Homeowners Association, the Torrance Sister City Association, Torrance Craftsmen’s Guild, and Soka Gakkai International-Buddhist Association for Peace, Culture and Education. Entertainment was provided by Susan Mann’s Wahine Ilikea Dancers performing Polynesian dances, O-Edo Ichi-Za performing traditional Japanese fan dances, and Myo’on Taiko drumming. There were also several food trucks available and one of them even sold Japanese food. There were booths with arts and crafts for sale by the Torrance Craftsmen’s Guild.

Columbia Park has over 110 cherry blossom trees that were donated by Soka Gakkai International-USA. The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom symbolizes hope, virtue and new beginnings while also representing the fragility and the beauty of life. It is a reminder that life can be very beautiful but that it can also be tragically short. I think one of the most surprising things about yesterday’s event is that even with the extremely odd [non]winter we had, the trees still knew what weekend they needed to bloom for us. Continue reading

Rename Columbia Park AYSO Park

field closed sign

Our park is still closed 1 year later

Regular readers may recall that back in October I wrote an article entitled, Columbia Park, Torrance: Pay to play? To recap, the west end of Columbia Park was closed for renovations on May 20, 2013 for what was to be “no more than thirty (30) calendar days.” Apparently contracts mean little in the City of Torrance and instead of opening 30 days later, it was reopened September 21, 2013! When it reopened it was littered with barriers that had signs attached advising everyone that if they wanted to use the field from now on, they had to get a permit (see photo). Besides writing the referenced article I started attending Torrance City Council meetings on a regular basis so the normal people would have some representation; I ever addressed the council with my displeasure. I do not think they cared.

Anyway, fast-forward to April of 2014 and our park has more barriers, signs, and chain link fences placed all over the park making it not only an eyesore but creating a safety hazard. A couple weeks ago I decided to call the City of Torrance Facility Booking Office to find out just how much it would cost me to be able to use a small section of the park to kick a ball around. It turns out I cannot; just so you understand, you cannot either. Only AYSO can use it and they will not be using it until June or July. In other words, the Torrance residents that pay for the park and its maintenance are not allowed to use the park. We only wish it was “pay to play.” In our dreams. If I was angry before, that was nothing compared to how I feel now. The following is the prepared statement I made to the Torrance City Council at the last meeting, held April 8, 2014:

Mr. Mayor, City Council members, staff, audience members and television viewers: Continue reading

Columbia Park, Torrance: Pay to play?

I have a feeling this is going to be a multi-post story; so let’s start at the beginning. Regular readers know I have two dogs, Buddy & Hershey, and they get walked twice a day, every day. To keep things interesting for the dogs we were in the habit of frequently changing the route we would walk; we might walk around the South Bay Galleria, or several neighborhood blocks and we would include the various walking paths in Columbia Park. Well, we used to walk around Columbia Park up until May 20, 2013 when we discovered the west side of the park was closed for some kind of renovation. It was difficult to see what was going on that our walking on a path was going to disrupt, but I understand there might be insurance regulations involved, so we just eliminated Columbia Park from our daily walk routine. One night, a couple of weeks ago we noticed that the park was open again so we detoured through it so the dogs could get some variety back into their lives.

As we walked through the park it was a little difficult to see what renovations might have been done, but it was nighttime, so maybe we just could not see the improvements. There was one glaring difference; all throughout the park were barriers with signs attached advising everyone that if they wanted to use the field from now on, they had to get a permit! I will admit I was more than a little miffed at the suggestion that someone would need to get a permit if they wanted to play a game of softball or a pickup game of soccer. When I got home I made a status update on my personal Facebook page asking the powers that be for the City of Torrance what was going on with our park being closed for four months, only to re-open with new fees if you wanted to use the park’s fields. A couple days later I received the following message from John Jones, Community Services Director for Torrance: Continue reading

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