Santa Monica Chess Park is being closed for criminal activity

The Recreation and Park Commission votes for the park to be closed for an indefinite period of time

From Dolores Quintana

Santa Monica Chess Park, a relic from when chess games were a popular pastime in a park, its signature chess tables and benches are being removed and the park is being closed indefinitely in an effort to resolve the security issues and criminal behavior that the den Torment Park for years.

Members of the Recreations and Park Commission have finally decided to take action to resolve the problems that the park has drawn to the neighborhood, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.

Commission Vice-Chair Maryanne LaGuardia said: “They have already been stabbed by a knife, they have been seriously injured, there is currently active prostitution. I think the best first step is to close it. I say this with great reluctance, but I don’t know what else we can do. ”

Located on 1652 Ocean Front Walk, Chess Park is on 0.29 acres east of the famous Santa Monica Pier and Carousel and just west of the equally famous Muscle Beach workout area. The centerpiece of the park is a life-size chess board with life-size chess pieces that can be checked out to play a game of human size. Each of the tables is equipped with one to four chess boards to allow multiple games per table. It is a remarkable facility for chess lovers and unfortunately the unsavory behavior of local people without shelter with violence, sexual activity, mental breakdowns and tables covered with their belongings has made it difficult to use the park for its intended purpose.

“The chess park has long been a topic of discussion in the Recreation and Parks Commission. The commissioners have called for more police patrols, increased involvement of the homeless liaison program and the installation of a blue-light emergency call box. None of these changes had a lasting impact, ”said Lori Brown, Chair of Leisure and Parks.

Residents of the nearby residential buildings are not happy with the conditions of the park and the element that the park has drawn to the area.

“I’m calling because Chess Park is no longer safe. It used to be one of my favorite places, but the last time I tried to go there, someone threatened me with physical injuries, threatened to kill me, ”said 13-year-old Lucky Bisary, who is from Santa Monica. was quoted daily press.

After the committee meeting and what the locals said, the vote to close the park, remove the tables and benches and put a fence around the area was unanimously approved. The board members of the commission believe that the park should be modernized for new uses, especially because of the upcoming Olympic beach volleyball competitions that will be held nearby. The Recreation and Parking Commission will vote on this usage at a later date after considering contributions from Santa Monica residents. The Santa Monica City Council will make the final decision after hearing the results of the Recreation and Parks Commission.

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