CIVIC CENTER — Lorenzo De Maio and his daughter love Tongva Park. It’s their preferred picnic spot, the site of their favorite walks and it has become so important to the family that they make stops there before school to take in the ocean views.
Thanks to the Give Santa Monica program, future generations of De Maios will always remember how much the park meant to their family as Lorenzo De Maio was one of the first residents to sponsor a bench, including a plaque that will remain on the bench for as long as it remains in the park.
“I feel a longing to contribute to my community and to participate in my community,” he said. “I’ve participated in some charities and events but nothing that has taken over for us. I was really inspired when I saw on Seascape that they were doing this and I really got very excited about the fact that we could contribute specifically to a park that we got excited about and to a park to which we had been going.”
Bench donations cost $3,100 and donors are able to customize a plaque that will be placed on the edge of the bench. The Tongva Park benches are the latest expansion of the Give Santa Monica program that allows residents to give money toward a wish list of items within city-owned parks.
Melissa Spagnuolo, senior administrative analyst at City Hall, said four benches have been sponsored by three groups. Private citizens have sponsored two and the Jonathan Club sponsored two.
Matthew Allnatt, COO of Jonathan Club, said the club participates in several kinds of community outreach programs but that Tongva Park’s location gave donations there a special prominence.
“It’s a fairly significant piece of property and a fairly significant statement in the city,” he said. “Right at the top of the incline there are outlooks over the ocean and Santa Monica.”
Like Allnat, De Maio said he has been involved with other kinds of community outreach efforts but said the park donations, and Tongva in specific, felt special.
“It just felt perfect in terms of how happy we are, how privileged we are to live in Santa Monica and we love the idea of the practical implementation of a green space right there because the city really needs that space,” he said.
Spagnuolo said the youth of Tongva Park meant donations had only recently begun at the location but residents have been supporting parks in other areas of the city for a while.
“It’s a big program and we have it for all of our parks, we do have a wish list of amenities that we need at certain parks and beach locations,” she said.
She said residents interested donating to any of the municipal parks can find more information at www01.smgov.net/osm/give.
To purchase a bench, contact the city of Santa Monica’s Community & Cultural Services Department at (310) 458-8310 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.