A coalition of residents and groups – Airport2Park.org – hopes to steer the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) debate and discussion toward building a “great park” on the airport grounds, expanding upon the sports fields and park area already on portions of the premises.
To that end, the coalition is hitting the ground running and hosting a community workshop next month “to envision what the park could be.”
Entitled “From Airport to Park: Turning Santa Monica Airport into a Park for Everyone,” the workshop takes place Oct. 3 from 6 pm to 9 pm at Mount Olive Church, 1343 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica.
“Airport2Park.org is a coalition uniting residents who want to seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a great park in place of the Santa Monica Airport,” John Fairweather, Chair of Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT), said in a statement.
According to the coalition’s website, the new group was inspired “from parks around the U.S. and world that were transformed from airports, old railways, and more.”
According to the coalition, converting SMO into a public park would be the preferred course of action.
“Surveys have shown that the public overwhelmingly favors turning Santa Monica Airport into a park,” the coalition stated.
The coalition envisioned how the park could be used, if realized. For example, the park itself would feature trails, playgrounds, gardens, quiet places, and facilities for walking, hiking, jogging, and cycling.
As for SMO’s buildings on Airport Avenue, the coalition hopes they “could become arts and cultural facilities.”
“Buildings north of the runway now used for aircraft operations could become space for tech, environmental, and other business incubators; the rents to the city for these uses can support park operations,” the coalition continued in its statement. “A park will also allow for improvement of north-south street connections to improve traffic circulation.”
Speakers at the Oct. 3 workshop are expected to talk about how other airports in the United States and other countries were converted into parks. Three groups make up the coalition that is Airport2Park.org, including Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc.
As July 1, 2015, approaches, the debate and discussion about the future of Santa Monica Airport will likely intensify, as certain agreements with the federal government are set to expire.
The coalition lists eight parks converted airports, railways, or other transit facilities, including Cornfields Park just outside downtown Los Angeles, Stapleton Park in Denver, Colo., Northerly Park in Chicago, and the Great Park in Orange County, Calif., among others.
More information can be found at www.airport2park.org.