CVS Pharmacy, which is set to move into the former Barnes & Noble space at Encino Marketplace despite protests from some local residents, has offered an olive branch of sorts to the community. CVS has pledged to make a "significant" contribution toward an estimated $550,000 city project to overhaul 14 dilapidated soccer fields in Encino, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz’s office.
The drugstore's donation, along with approximately $268,000 in Quimby funds from Councilman Mitchell Englander’s 12th District to be used for park planning and a $180,000 contribution from the local American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Region 33, will make this immense project possible.
"This money has been saved by the volunteer board that runs the region over the past few years, in hopes that this project would happen," said Mike Marks, a member of AYSO's National Board of Directors. "This money comes from all the families that have played at the park, so it is truly a community project. This will pretty much wipe out the region's savings, but we plan to fund raise to build up some level of reserves so we can make sure we keep the grass growing at the park."
The project will strip down the fields, pull out and refurbish all of the irrigation, lay the fields back down, re-grass with a sturdier, natural turf and deploy a better maintenance system, according to Valley Planning Deputy Shawn Bayliss from Councilman Paul Koretz's office.
Bayliss said the project will be done in-house through the city’s Department of Recreation and Park starting by January 2012. The grading and irrigation system will take approximately three months, and the seeding is expected to take place around June 2012, Bayliss said.
“Over the past eight months, I have worked cooperatively with CVS to explore a number of options to put a community-related tenant in the extra lease space next to their store,” Encino resident Robin Permaul said in a letter to the community on Facebook.
When Barnes & Noble at Encino Marketplace closed its doors on Jan. 1, it tore a hole in the region’s community of avid readers. For months, Permaul organized rallies on the corner of Hayvenhurst Avenue and Ventura Boulevard to save the bookstore and protest the incoming CVS Pharmacy that will take its place.
They were outraged at developer Rick Caruso for raising the rents in the Encino Marketplace and succeeded in getting the drugstore’s liquor license postponed. Despite their efforts, CVS is still set to move into the space and plans to reserve about 4,000 square feet of space along Hayvenhurst Avenue for another tenant, which has yet to be announced.
Caruso told Encino Patch that a number of independent bookstores were contacted to lease the additional space, but an agreement between CVS and the independent bookstores never came to pass.
“This a good solution to a hard situation and I think it’ll be amazing once people see the massive size of this project,” Permaul told Encino Patch, adding that she’s decided not to oppose CVS’s new request for an Alcoholic Beverage License.