The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

River Park construction set to begin in April, seven years after purchase

Following its 2017 purchase, River Park is currently slated to begin construction April 4. Los Angeles (LA) City Council approved the project Nov. 14, issuing a conditional use permit for the school. As the school applies for permits from the Department of City Planning , they will start pre-construction activities like fencing, light grading and work on the clubhouse.

Though the political battle for River Park ended following the LA City Council’s decision, opposition groups continued their fight against the project by taking legal action. Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg ’89 said people opposed to River Park are suing the city for alleged mistakes made in the conditional use permit in order to halt construction.

“Opposition groups continue their fight,” Engelberg said. “It’s the city’s process that resulted in the conditional use permit being issued and they want to appeal that . They’re suing the city arguing that certain aspects of the conditional use permit process were erroneous. As a result, the conditional use permit to see up should be invalidated.”

In addition to community members holding up the development process, Head of School Rick Commons said that there were several other factors that contributed to the delay.

“It’s been seven years since we purchased the property and it’ll be another two and a half years of construction,” Commons said. “So it’s really gonna be a decade from purchase to operation. Part of that is the slowness that COVID-19 created, but then there was also a lot of intense work in working to get the community to feel like they could support it, and that made it possible for the politicians to support it and for the city to give its approval.”

Engelberg said that over the last six years, the public was allowed to continue using the golf and tennis facilities, with the sole purpose of showing the community that the school has residents’ best interests at heart.

“We felt that one of the strongest ways of sending the message to the community that we’re serious about making sure that the community can continue to enjoy the facility is to allow the community to continue to enjoy the facilities,” Engelberg said. “We left golf and tennis open for six years, even though for most of that time, the school was losing money running [Weddington Golf and Tennis].”

When construction begins, boys’ tennis will practice at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC). Boys’ tennis player Matthew Reiter ’25 said that LAVC does not have courts to fit both the tennis teams, and as a result, the varsity team will lose many members.

“Right now we have a 20 to 25 person [varsity] team,” Reiter said. “Since construction is going to start, we have to cut off half of our team and put them on [junior varsity] and have a 12 person [varsity] team.”

While the construction conditions will limit practice for select teams, River Park will more than double the existing facilities. Head of Upper School Beth Slattery said she is looking forward to the partnerships the school will have with different community organizations through River Park.

“I really do think it allows us to have more partnerships,” Slattery said. “We could do more summer camps that involve the community — just because we’re so limited with space on this campus. This really frees us up to be able to do things and I’m excited about it.”


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Eden Conner, Assistant Opinion Editor

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