d36ABDqnI14B9FD7.lg

Sasha (left) relaxes while Jack and Aayla play in the background at Joselyn Park on Tuesday afternoon. Some have suggested naming the park after late Councilman Herb Katz, who died in January from cancer. Katz was a frequent visitor of the park. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITY HALL — When someone needed Herb Katz, they knew where to find him.

There he would be every day, standing in the off-leash dog area at Joslyn Park, letting his two faithful companions run around with their tails wagging and tongues hanging loose as he caught up with his neighbors and constituents.

It’s for this reason that city officials have recently proposed commemorating the late mayor and councilman, who died in January after a long battle with cancer, at the place he was perhaps seen the most outside of City Hall.

City officials are currently soliciting input from the community on the best way to honor the memory of Katz and Dorothy Green, an environmental activist and founding president of Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay, who died from melanoma in October of last year.

City Hall has posted a survey on its Web site — www.smgov.net — that proposes several suggestions — naming the dog park in Katz’ honor and similarly dedicating one of the two unnamed beach parks at the end of Ocean Park Boulevard and at the southern border of Venice in Green’s memory. Residents are also invited to make suggestions.

The survey closes on Sept. 15.

The City Council in June directed its staff to return with recommendations for memorializing both Katz and Green. Since then the Recreation and Parks Commission has discussed incorporating some kind of memorial with the renovation of Joslyn Park.

Councilman Richard Bloom, who initiated the request with Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’Connor, said that City Hall had received a grant to plant about a thousand trees around that time and felt it would be appropriate to name the entire grove in his honor.

“One of Herb’s big issues was always making sure that our projects, the buildings that we approved, were properly landscaped,” Bloom said. “It’s only one idea and we’ll see where things lead us.”

While Katz was a fixture at the dog park, Susan Cloke, the chair of the Recreation and Parks Commission, said she doesn’t believe it should be the only way that his civic contribution is remembered in the city, suggesting perhaps renaming the Jazz on the Lawn concert series in front of City Hall.

“I think that doing something in the dog park only recognizes an aspect of his personality and he did have a huge love of music and was a big supporter of all kinds of music things in the city,” she said.

When it comes to honoring Green, Cloke said it would be fitting to remember her with a memorial that would actually improve water quality, building another Beach Green, which is a parking lot converted into open space, serving as a recreational area that also filters pollutants as it passes through soil, preventing it from going into the Santa Monica Bay. City Hall last year created its first Beach Green at the 2400 Barnard Way parking lot, planting a special type of grass called Netlawn that is designed to accommodate cars when necessary.

“My feeling about these two awards is that we want them to really reflect what would be meaningful to the people that we’re honoring,” Cloke said.

Mark Gold, the president of Heal the Bay, said that he personally favors naming the beach park at the end of Ocean Park Boulevard, noting that the location played a significant part in the organization’s history because it’s where a number of rallies occurred.

“The reason why I think it should be at the beach is that no individual has done more for cleaning up Santa Monica Bay or did more in their lives than Dorothy Green and what better way to acknowledge her contribution to the bay than one of the state’s most popular beaches that she has done so much to clean up,” Gold said.

The council in 2002 adopted a set of guidelines concerning the naming of city-owned land, buildings and facilities. For commemorating individuals who served in the city, the guidelines suggest waiting five years since the time of their death.

A handful of late city officials have been honored, including Councilwoman Christine Reed (Christine Emerson Reed Park) and Councilman Ken Edwards (Ken Edwards Center).

Councilman Bob Holbrook, who was good friends with Katz, said that he believes the late mayor would be pleased with the dog park suggestion.

“I know that Herb loved the dog park and he loved walking his dogs there and he made a lot of good friends there,” Holbrook said.

Print Friendly