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Soulvine: Willowbrook residents don’t want horses

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has been battling Willowbrook homeowners over plans to create an equestrian center in their neighborhood

Willowbrook inquiring minds want to know: Why is Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas dead-set on bringing horses to Magic Johnson Park?

WHAT’S GOING ON? — This is Black History Month, the annual 29-day period in which we Black people look back and wonder how we got over. We devote February to honoring our black history legends who made us who we are today: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells (the Soulvine’s favorite), Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois.

ComptonHerald.com | Betty Pleasant

“Soulvine” is commentary by Betty Pleasant. The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of the publisher.

And I don’t care what myopic White people think, Beyonce, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, made the Super Bowl halftime show relevant with her sociopolitical performance extolling our Black legends who got us here. What a marvelous way to kick off Black History Month?!

But wait, Black and Brown people in Los Angeles County have some serious overcoming of their own to do this month that affects their lives from this day forward.

Swimming pools or horse stables?

It seems that Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is intent on bringing horses and stables and such – an “equestrian center” – to the residential Willowbrook neighborhood near the Magic Johnson Park. War has been raging between the Willowbrook homeowners and Ridley-Thomas for some time over the horses issue. The homeowners have organized and are crying foul at the fact that they bought homes in a normal residential area that Ridley-Thomas now wishes to turn into farmland and/or ranchland and/or God knows what land.

The Willowbrook residents met with the county’s Regional Planning Commission in December where the commission in presented its plans to create an equestrian center in their neighborhood. The people told the commission they want an aquatic center with swimming pools in their neighborhood. Commission voted that the county Parks and Rec should put aside its plans for horses because the people want swimming pools. Then, the county Parks and Rec held a park assessment meeting at which time the community voted on what amenities they wanted in the neighborhood. Not one vote was cast for horses. It seems nobody wants horses in Willowbrook except Ridley-Thomas. The question is: Why? The Second District — from Leimert Park to Willowbrook — abounds with speculation as to that question.

The Willowbrook residents are scheduled to take their anti-horses issue to the full Board of Supervisors on Feb. 23 at 9:30 a.m. where they hope to overcome the single-mindedness of their county supervisor, whose mindset appears not to include the wishes of the people who elected him to office. The supervisors will vote on moving forward with the renovation of Magic Johnson Park. The question is whether the renovation will include horses.

My editor, Jarrette Fellows, has been following this story ever since it popped up last year. And after hearing the people’s point of view, he made arrangements to conduct an interview with Ridley-Thomas to get his point of view. Ridley-Thomas did not make himself available for a scheduled telephone interview and has not spoken to the press.

Priorities for District 1 students and parents

On the other hand, Dr. George J. McKenna, District 1 board member of the LAUSD will host a town hall meeting on Feb. 20 at which Michelle King, our new and first Black female superintendent will join him in discussing priorities for students and parents of District 1. U.S. Congressional representative Karen Bass is also scheduled to provide federal education updates at the town hall meeting, which will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Theodore T. Alexander Jr. Science Center School, 3737 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles [MAP].

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.


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