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Virginia Street Widening Project Celebrated in Bellflower

Bellflower Mayor Santa Ines and city council members prepare to finish the official tree planting over on Virginia Street on Wednesday.  Tammye McDuff Photo

Bellflower Mayor Santa Ines and city council members prepare to finish the official tree planting over on Virginia Street on Wednesday. Tammye McDuff Photo

By Tammye McDuff

The widening of Virginia Avenue has been long in coming.

Since the early 1940’s, a Bellflower resident has owned half of the street, with a private home on the property.  The city of Bellflower recently entered into negotiations with the heirs to the property, and celebrated the official widening and reopening of the street this past Wednesday.

Mayor Sonny Santa Ines and Bellflower Council members were present to dedicate the newest street addition.  In honor of this new area Australian Willow trees were planted on the newly constructed common area. These trees have water-filled leaves that are fire resistant and highly tolerant of drought with noninvasive roots.

The past few years, the City has been at a financial standstill, however through recent acquisitions, the City is now on track to economic recovery. Brian Lee, Director of Economic Development was onsite to give HMG an exclusive look at the new additions to the City. Among a few of the newer developments is the Flora Vista Dog Park that will be a 12,000 square foot facility with area denoted for large dogs and small dogs. Lee notes “The City is already out to bid and anticipate awarding the bid by the end of August, then have the park completed and ready to open by November 2014.”

A refurbished Kaiser Permanente complex has already begun.  Lee added, “This facility is where the old Kaiser hospital was. The hospital was moved to Downey due to seismic retrofitting issues. It was apparently easier to build a new hospital, than correct seismic concerns.  What that meant for the City of Bellflower is that the facility went from being a hospital to a medical campus, to include clinics and doctors’ offices.”

Kaiser has not yet submitted the final proposal of their master plan; however, they have already embarked on sizeable contributions to the community. Two years ago, Kaiser added solar panels to the existing four story parking facility.  The installation of 30k square feet of panels is the largest solar panel fitting in Southern California. The medical campus will provide a substantial increase of fiscal revenue for the City in the form of property taxes.

A new live – work multifaceted complex will be located at Alondra Boulevard and Clark Avenue. Similar to the new downtown Belmont Court with a Mediterranean flare, this new project has been partnered between the City, William Hezmalhalch Architects, and City Ventures.

The previous building was the old bowling alley site, which had been misused with code enforcement issues and a large uncontrollable transient population.  Lee adds “Part of the agreement between the City and the architects, was the transfer of fees. These fees will go toward the building and opening of a new Fire Museum.”  The Fire Museum construction will begin next year with an anticipated opening by the end of 2015. The Museum is a partnership between the City and a non-profit organization called The County of Los Angeles Fire Museum Association.

The celebration also marked the 54th deployment of the B.R.I.M. Program in the Bellflower community. Bellflower Recreation in Motion [B.R.I.M.] is an award-winning program that brings recreation activities to neighborhoods.  Sports equipment, games and crafts are set up between preselected addresses managed by B.R.I.M. personnel.  Residents are notified in advance that BRIM will be posting no parking signs and blocking certain areas.  The Bellflower Parks and Recreation Department offered healthy snacks for the neighborhood residents.

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