West Hollywood Park, site of early same-sex weddings, reopens
A newly expanded and renovated West Hollywood Park, where some of the first same-sex marriages in California were performed, reopened this week after months of construction.
The heavily used park off North San Vicente Boulevard features 2½ acres of additional green space, a much-needed commodity in the 1.9-square-mile city with little open space, said Sam Baxter, West Hollywood’s director of human services.
“With West Hollywood being as densely populated as it is, we don’t have the luxury of having vacant parcels of land,” Baxter said. “It’s created quite a buzz.”
The park was renovated as part of the city’s $64-million West Hollywood Park Master Plan, which included the building of public meeting rooms, a parking structure and the new West Hollywood Library adjacent to the park.
Some of the additional space in the park comes from the site of the old West Hollywood Library, which was demolished in September despite opposition from preservationists. That space is now parkland, Baxter said.
West Hollywood Park now features roughly 30 news trees, a walking trail and two new basketball courts, Baxter said.
Gregory Ellwood, a West Hollywood resident and member of the Lambda Basketball League for LGBT basketball players, expressed excitement about the new courts at a May 7 city council meeting and asked that the courts be opened as soon as possible.
“It is one of the few places where gay men and women can meet to play basketball and feel safe,” Ellwood said.
The park frequently hosts rallies, speeches and festivals. In June 2008, numerous same-sex couples were married in the park in a makeshift wedding center on the first day of the few months gay marriages were legal in California.
The city will celebrate the official opening of the park Saturday.
-- Hailey Branson-Potts
Image: A map indicates the approximate location of West hollywood Park in black. Credit: Los Angeles Times Mapping L.A.