First published in the Aug. 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the master plan for potential design renovations to George Izay Park on Thursday.
The Parks and Recreation Department will use the George Izay Park Master Plan to inform and prioritize future improvements to the park and its amenities, facilities and buildings.
Estimated costs for the park renovations were more than $50 million, with costs for a new recreation center included in that estimate at about $27 million.
In May 2021, the Parks and Recreation Department initiated a request for a consulting firm to propose renovations to the park, and its buildings and amenities. Ultimately, RJM Design Group’s bid was selected, and the firm was awarded the project in September 2021.
RJM Design Group has evaluated the existing park amenities, engaged in community outreach via workshops and online surveys and developed a working design for park renovations.
“Our job was to listen to the community, to engage the community and understand their wants and needs regarding what their vision is for George Izay park,” said Tamara McClory, who gave the presentation to the committee on behalf of RJM Design Group.
Thousands of community members and stakeholders participated in the survey and engagement process. Survey results showed that Burbank residents would like to see the city upgrade play equipment at the park, prioritize sustainable native landscapes and opportunities for activities and recreation programs.
They also held workshops where community members laid out their ideal park. RJM design then layered those layouts and looked for common elements and overlaps, such as ball fields or park benches in similar locations.
Based on those results, RJM developed a master plan for the park. The findings were presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Thursday night and will be presented to Burbank City Council in the future.
Renovations to the park could include an entirely new recreation center and multipurpose theater, both with larger footprints than their current counterparts, and minor updates to the ball fields.
The park might also feature pickleball courts, new biking and pedestrian pathways, exercise stations, and more accessible and inclusive programming.
Costs for the proposed recreation center and theater would be more than 60% of the estimated costs of renovations RJM Design recommended that staff “prepare and perform additional design feasibility studies to better understand opportunities and constraints.” This would help city staff choose design options based on budget and timeline.
Many community members spoke out during the public comment period to encourage committee members to prioritize the health of existing trees in the park, and to discourage use of artificial turf.
McClory responded to those comments, saying “there is no artificial or AstroTurf proposed as part of the conceptual plan … We know and value how important the ecosystem is in the park currently, and we want to certainly preserve that.”
The park could also see increased tree cover and McClory suggested the addition of more than 100 new trees, preservation of open spaces and improved drought tolerant watering systems.
McClory said that further in-depth analysis needs to be done before the project will be approved for phasing and next steps.