Community Meets to Consider the Future for Vets Park, Bill Botts

On Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, tables were set at the Vets Memorial Auditorium for residents to imagine the future; the first of a series of meetings on the feasibility of recreating both Vets Park and Bill Botts. While there were only a few dozen people in attendance, the conversations were earnest and many ideas were explored. 

The meeting began with a presentation by Steve Johnson of Culver City-based architecture firm JohnsonFavaro, the consultants engaged by the city to study both parks and reflect on community needs, while keeping a keen eye on the 2028 Olympics coming to Los Angeles. Johnson’s overview gave focus to the age of Vets Park, and how little it had changed since its origin in 1950. 

There had been some change; the previous Senior Center was now the Teen Center, with the new Senior Center across Culver Blvd. in a much newer building. But the fact that the Plunge, the picnic tables, the playgrounds and the baseball/softball diamonds were exactly as originally designed was a matter to reflect on. “Culver City has changed a lot since 1950, and the design for community use of the park has not changed at all,” stated Johnson. 

The need for a functional performance space was discussed – a glaring problem that was joked about by several of those in attendance. The space where the meeting was held, the “Basketorium” is a space created to be a basketball court, backed by a stage, and separated by a large distance from the permanent seating. While it’s fine for basketball games, it requires extensive reconfiguration for any other use; performances on the stage need to use folding chairs on the basketball court to accommodate an audience, and performances utilizing the seating need to create a backdrop to define the space. 

One of the main challenges for the Bill Botts Field is that much of the area is built over landfill, and as landfill settles and shifts, it changes the landscape. Johnson noted “The city currently has a million dollar per-year budget to try and keep up with the landscape at Bill Botts.” Several people at the meeting spoke about Little League and AYSO games that had to ‘run around’ unexpected hills and holes on the field. 

The newly appointed Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Ted Stevens was in attendance, listening from the sidelines. 

What the community wants and how the city will move forward is still open for discussion; two more community meetings are on the calendar for the Vets Building, on Saturday, December 9, 2023, from 9-11 am and Thursday, February 8, 2024, from 6-8 pm. 

 To attend in person, come to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium located at 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City, CA 90230. To attend any of the community meetings virtually, please visit the Project Website and click on the virtual meeting link.

A community survey has been prepared to receive information outside of the community meetings.  To take the survey, please visit the Project Website and click on the survey link.  If you would like to take the survey over the phone, please call (310) 253-6650. The survey will be open until December 1, 2023.

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang