A ribbon-cutting celebration on Tuesday officially dedicated the new gardens and turf that will provide a more beautiful and useful space for folks who use the services of El Centro de Accion Social, an agency that serves low-income children, families, and seniors in the San Gabriel Valley area with programs in the schools and parks.
The landscaping makeover, made possible by $37,000 from the Tournament of Roses and Miracle-Gro and accomplished with the labor of Pasadena’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Tournament volunteers, transformed the grounds surrounding the iconic yellow bungalow that sits at the southern edge of Pasadena’s Central Park. Murals of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent decorate three sides.
The project had been considered for some time, but it wasn’t until the city received the funds that it was able to go ahead. Plantings were tailored to complement the mural, DPW Public Information Coordinator Ysenia Alvarado said. The north-facing entry of the bungalow was repainted and the city restored and repaired windows and frames, but the murals were not touched. Mariana Robles-Dalany, interim executive director of El Centro, said that they are nationally protected and need a special grant for restoration.
Pasadena parks superintendent and landscape designer Ana Bailey spoke to us about the development of the plan. The design concept was developed with the Central Park Committee, an organization of stakeholders in the area—businesses, residents, and Councilmember Steve Madison—to bring the bring Central Park back to being a nice location. Bordered on three sides by some of the busiest streets in Pasadena, it has not always had a sterling reputation.
An ancient horseshoe pit to the east was removed and replaced with turf, Bailey said, “so the children here have a nice, open area where they can play.” She chose drought-tolerant trees, flowers and the same pink roses used in the Brenner Park renovation. “I have a good relationship with this variety of roses,” she said. Low-growing, hardy, and drought tolerant, Rosa “Electric Blanket” works well in public spaces.
Present for the ceremony were Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard; John McCarthy, vice president, Scotts Miracle-Gro; City Manager Michael Beck; Madison; William Flinn, TOR executive director; Robles-Dalany. Broadcast gardener Nick Federoff from Miracle-Gro was also on hand, along with field reps Adam Carter and Gerald Phillips representing State Sen. Carol Liu an Asm. Chris Holden, respectively.
“I’m delighted to be here to celebrate this partnership,” Bogaard said. “It’s called White Suits Green Thumbs.” White suits are what Tournament volunteers wear on Rose Parade day and at other events that don’t require trowels and gardening gloves. Earlier in the year, the White Suits Green Thumbs initiative tackled landscaping at Brenner, Hamilton, and Robinson Parks.
Beck, filling in for Madison who was stuck in LA traffic, commented, “They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I think it takes an army to build a park.” Adding that Central Park in Old Pasadena is one of the oldest in the city, he said, “I appreciate the value that Scotts Miracle-Gro and the Tournament of Roses has brought to this park.”
Just before he cut the ribbon with golden hedge trimmers, Bogaard said, “This ceremony is because neither Bill (Flinn) not I are very skilled in gardening and need all the help we can get.” Looking to future partnerships, he added, “We plan for another park to be celebrating a year from now.”
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