Situated in the heart of Windsor Village, Harold Henry Park came to being in 1965 when neighbors in the tight-knit community “behind the Ebell Club” united to ask Councilman Harold Henry to create a park instead of approving a proposed large-scale apartment building. The homes on the two large lots that comprised the trapezoidal-shaped block were raised, pine and eucalyptus trees were planted, and a children’s playground became the focus for the community.
Now, almost 50 years later, Harold Henry Park is still the hub of life in Windsor Village with generations of children having grown up on the swings and monkey bars, while others run its circumference, knowing that four laps makes for about one mile of workout. Not much has changed since the park’s beginnings although the trees are now towering (and a sometime home to a hawk) and the playground equipment was upgraded sometime in the 1980s. The park is a contributing element to the Windsor Village Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).
So when Councilman Tom LaBonge reached out to the Windsor Village community in early 2013 with Quimby funds available to give Harold Henry Park a needed upgrade, residents in the area were both thrilled and concerned. They knew the park could use some sprucing up, but also didn’t want it to be fenced in, to see over-sized play equipment installed, or lose the open views across the park. They wanted to preserve the simplicity of the green grounds that roll down from Windsor to Lucerne boulevards, two blocks south of Wilshire Blvd.
A neighborhood group of volunteers formed, now called the Friends of Harold Henry Park, and worked with the WVA Board of Directors and its President Diane Dicksteen, to come up with a plan to upgrade the central portion of the park. They saw the central area as most in need of an update: it has tired benches, broken concrete and ragged plantings. They wanted to create a quiet meditative zone to balance out the active children’s play area to the east and the picnic tables to the west where groups often gather.
After months of meetings between Councilman LaBonge’s office, Craig Raines, Landscape Architect for the City of LA, and the neighborhood, a full renovation plan was drawn up and approved by the HPOZ Board on January 21, 2014. Turns out there were more Quimby funds available than originally thought, and a need for making the park ADA compliant was required, so all three sections of the park will see improvements. It is expected the renovations will begin in the spring of 2014 and will include:
- Refurbishment of the park sign and bust of Councilman Harold Henry;
- New playground equipment, a water fountain and benches to be installed, with 50% sand maintained and 50% non-toxic resilient play surfacing installed;
- The central garden section of the park will be repaved/bricked, get new benches, a new water fountain, plantings and additional lighting;
- The western picnic table portion of the park will get a new pergola and resurfacing, as well as ADA compliant pathways.
“My office has been working very closely with Windsor Village Association and the Department of Rec and Parks to bring upgrades to this community park. It all happens when we come together as a community to articulate the community’s vision for the park. The park is accredited to the great Councilmember Harold Henry who served the city for almost 20 years,” Councilman Tom LaBonge told the Larchmont Buzz.
Many people from Windsor Village were actively involved in the park renovation plans, including Julie Stromberg, Laurie Kaufman, John Kaliski, Joe Hoffman, Hugh Wilton, Allison Sapunor, Julie Grist and Diane Dicksteen.