State of the Eighth address reveals new development

Councilmember Bernard Parks delivered his ninth annual “State of the Eighth” address on Thursday evening to a room full of students being honored for their academic achievements and their proud parents. Families gathered at the Expo Center to hear Parks reveal new plans for their area and update them on current developments. After the address, “STAR” students from the Eighth District were awarded medals and backpacks for being the most improved or earning the highest grade point average in their grade.


Jan Perry, councilmember of CD 9, made a surprise appearance to introduce Parks. “I thought things were great over in the ninth, but they’re pretty great over here in the eighth too!” Perry said, “The kids are going to be the stars tonight!” But before the students had their time to shine, Parks took the stage to deliver his “State of the Eighth” address.

In less than ten minutes, Parks addressed some of the upcoming improvements to CD 8. These developments spanned from public transportation, to environmental, to recreational.

The “State of the Eighth” began with an explanation of the improvements to the district’s infrastructure. Parks said that they were able to receive funding to repave almost 18 miles of streets since July 1 of this year. Funds have also been allocated so that over 300 trees will be trimmed. Access ramps for wheelchair users will continue to be built around the city so that people with disabilities can go up and down curbs more easily.

Sewage improvement also received a moment in the spotlight. Parks said that the sewer work on Vernon “will be completed soon” but focused on a multi-million dollar sewer repair plan that was just approved by the city. Over the next 10 years, $170 million will be spent to improve the sewers in District Eight.

“We think it’s an absolute essential investment,” Parks said. “Because we have some of the oldest parts of the city, we certainly have some of the oldest sewers, so we’re going to get our fair share of the sewer improvement over the next 10-year cycle.”

Furthermore, Parks spoke about the multi-billion dollar public transportation system in Los Angeles. There will be an Expo Line that will run from Culver City to Downtown L.A. and another line from Culver City to Santa Monica. Locally, $1.5 billion worth of rail will be constructed starting next year linking Crenshaw from Exposition to L.A.X. The total of all of these projects is estimated to be between $2.5 and $3 billion of taxpayers’ money.

New upcoming additions to District Eight include the first animal shelter, which will open in the next three or four months on 62nd Ave and St. Andrews, according to Parks. This $15 million animal shelter will be the first in the history of their community. In about seven months, the new grocery store Fresh ‘N Easy is expected to open on 52nd Street and Crenshaw. By the end of the year, Northgate Market and a senior housing complex will have their groundbreaking on 94th and Broadway. At the beginning of 2012, a six-acre plot on Manchester and Vermont will be available for development.

Two achievements that were celebrated during the “State of the Eighth” were a substantial donation from Superior Warehouse and an increase in jobs. Superior Warehouse donated $250,000 that was split between View Park Prep Accelerated and 107th Street School. View Park Prep is located in the Hyde Park/Park Mesa Heights area and 107th Street School is in the Southeast area of District Eight.

Finally, out of all fifteen Los Angeles districts, District Eight was the only one that was “able to maintain and increase job creation” despite the recession, Parks said. In the last year, District Eight created 3,700 jobs. Parks continued, “We’re creating jobs in the community and with those jobs we hope that they bring people’s ability to be proud of their community and also the ability to withstand the economic downturn and help fund the issues for their family.”

But the evening was not just about the “State of the Eighth.” Excitement began to buzz when the councilman presented awards to Eighth District students. Constance Reese, Miss Black California 2011, and Leila Ford, from AT&T, joined Parks in passing out the awards to students. Students in 5th, 8th, and 12th grades from District Eight schools were awarded most improved or highest grade point average.

imageCouncilmember Bernard Parks poses with Miss Black California Constance Reese and a student

Even though Audrey Tieger is a resident from West L.A., she was still impressed by all of the changes coming to the Eighth District. Tieger said, “I’m a retired educator, so I know all of these schools. It’s really important that all of these things are happening. It’s wonderful.” Tieger was at the event supporting her grandchildren.

Jeffrey Frazier, an 8th grader from Frederick K.C. Price III, won the award for Most Improved student in his grade. Jeffrey said that the recreational changes Parks talked about would be “a great influence on kids to keep them out of trouble and out of jail.” Jeffrey’s proud parents, Jeffrey Frazier Sr. and Beverly Frazier, were also there cheering him on.

imageThe Frazier family, from left to right Jeffrey Sr., Jeffrey Jr., and Beverly

Frazier echoed her son’s thoughts on the improvements coming to District Eight. “I think they’re much needed,” Frazier said. “They’ll revitalize the community. It’s great to hear that dollars are being put back into the community like that.”

Frazier was especially grateful for the new skate park opening next week at Jackie Tatum/Harvard park. She explained, “They say, ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,’ so it keeps [teenagers] off the streets and in a positive environment.” She hopes that Councilmember Parks will start offering educational resources to District Eight, such as math tutoring, mentoring, and guest speakers.

According to Councilmember Parks’ website, he represents over 250,000 people, making District Eight one of the most densely populated areas of South Los Angeles. The Eighth Council District includes the communities of Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Leimert Park, West Adams, Jefferson Park, Chesterfield Square, and other areas of South Los Angeles. In an evening when “star students” were recognized, Parks’ “State of the Eighth” shed light on a hopeful future for jobs, recreation, the local economy, and public transportation, to name a few.