What happens at City Yards? That was the question on most people’s minds on Feb. 1, as they attended the first community meeting to discuss the City’s project to revamp the existing site.

What they learned, from director of public works, Martin Pastucha, was that, among the services that happen at City Yards are hazmat services, traffic operations, street maintenance, housing of fleets, facilities maintenance programs and fire training.

What they learned from a presentation done by Scott Wolf, partner at Miller Hull, was what his firm, selected by the City, plans to do to overhaul the site.

City Yards, which has been located between Michigan and Delaware avenues and 24th and Stewart streets since the 1950’s, is almost twice the size of the Santa Monica Pier. Wolf explained that is why the firm is hoping to “hide [City Yards] in plain sight,” “make the invisible, visible,” “be a good neighbor,” and make a “commitment to sustainability” through their project.

Wolf emphasized that the community meeting, just the first of several to be held, was to help them determine the “hopes and dreams” of the public for City Yards.

After the brief presentation, the public was asked to join breakout groups to give their initial thoughts on City Yards overall, the community, the design, and sustainability.

The group then reconvened to summarize their thoughts for City Yards, which included: pursuing net-positive energy – producing electricity for the neighborhood; a focus on opportunities for water re-use; greater operational efficiency to conserve resources; providing learning programs for broader group of kids, like Rosie’s Girls; being conscious of the level of disruption to the neighbors – including keeping odor and sound levels to a minimum; providing opportunities for public art; using the City Yards project to enhance Stewart Street Park and solve some of the current challenges there; having a greater connection to adjacent neighborhoods – especially Stewart Street/the Pico neighborhood to the northeast; having a mindfulness of the overlap between pedestrians, cars and the heavy equipment moving in and out of the site; and allowing for more visibility in to the City Yards to celebrate the functions there.

Wolf stated that the firm and the City also plan to take into account the Bergamot Area plan when designing the new City Yards.

Wolf said they were very pleased with the turn out and level of engagement at the meeting.

“I think we got some great feedback from the community,” Wolf said. “But it was at the earliest stage of the project … The team is going to take that back and share that with other members.”

Wolf said he believes projects like this one tend to not get the same attention as other infrastructure projects.

“We pick a little bit of a different approach. We want a sustainable infrastructure project that is very much flipping the model on its head … And out of sight and out of mind isn’t really the case anymore. So rather than trying to put a wall around projects like City Yards, and hide them, we try and hide them in plain sight.”

Wolf said Miller Hull is also trying to find ways to promote more active engagement with the community through the project, and programs that provide the community benefit.

Pastucha said the main idea behind the meeting was, “just to introduce the project to folks and come up with some preliminary designs,” and he believes a lot of the concerns that arose at the meeting were the same things that were addressed in the presentation.

“What I was pleasantly surprised by was how many folks realize how important this project is, and the people who work there and provide these facilities,” Pastucha said. “And that it is important they be able to do those jobs.”

Pastucha said the great thing about getting 25 – 30 people’s opinions at the meeting was, “that’s 25 – 30 ideas we now have”.

“And that is always important to consider as you’re moving forward.”

Visit www.smgov.net/departments/publicworks/Architectureproject.aspx?id=26499 for more information.