ECHO PARK—This month, the Greater Echo Park Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council (GEPENC) gave $6,000 in grants to the Echo Park and Edendale libraries to help with maintenance and upkeep.
“The library is not clean,” GEPENC President Ari Bessendorf said. “We’re doing this because we feel our librarians do a really great job and we want to give them an environment where they can be an important resource to the community.”
The maintenance of the library was centralized through the Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks within the last few years but since budgets the department is having trouble providing the manpower to keep the libraries clean.
This is the second grant the GEPENC has given the Echo Park and Edendale libraries in the last year.
“The library is a public space that becomes very heavily used and it becomes dirty and no body cleans it,” Bessendorf said.
Neils Bartels, senior librarian at the Edendale Library, said the community is troubled when seeing trash around the library and in the parking and patio areas.
“The [GEPENC grant] is a huge benefit to us because when people are entering the library, it’s very visible and we want the library to be a welcoming place,” Bartels said.
At the February GEPENC general board meeting, members discussed what contributes to the cleanliness problem including high usage, nearby food trucks and a high homeless population utilizing the space.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell has been working with organizations in Echo Park including the Golden West Christian Church, People Assisting The Homeless and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to help the homeless community.
“We want to do what we can do to keep the neighborhoods cleaner and safer and the public facilities cleaner and safer but we don’t want to ignore the fact that our homeless population needs basic services to get them off the street and into permanent supportive housing,” O’Farrell said.
O’Farrell commended the GEPENC for giving grants to the libraries and said the City Council will continue to work with community partners and nonprofits on the issue.
“It’s always been frustrating that with these new libraries, adequate funding for maintenance just isn’t there yet,” he said. “But as councilmember and budgetary deliberations we will be engaging in fairly soon, I want to make sure and address those maintenance issues as much as we possibly can even though we’re still in lean budgetary times. It’s really going to take this kind of partnership that is being put forward here in Echo Park.”
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