The entrance to Palisades Charter High School has been transformed through the efforts of the Parent Booster Club, local donors and Pacific Palisades-based American Heritage Landscaping, providing a safer, more scenic area for students who use the busy crossing at the gateway intersection of Bowdoin Street and Temescal Canyon Road.
“The project began as a safety and beautification project for the entrance of the school, and the gateway garden is the final and third phase of the project,” Gateway Committee Member Cheryl Clark told the Palisadian-Post.
“What you see now went through a lot of different permutations,” Clark added. “The initial reason for the project was primarily safety aspects, to improve the crossing for the students in the morning and afternoon.”
The scope of the fundraising work was undertaken by Gateway Committee members Ivy Greene, Pam Mann, Sheri Sharp, Gail Flyer, Rachel Galper and Susie Newman.
Award-winning urban designer and architect Doug Suisman’s architectural firm, Suisman Urban Design, were lead designers on the project, which has been five years in the making.
Eli Garsilazo was also instrumental in developing the design plans for the project, along with Lisa Onodera who drew up the landscape design plans.
American Heritage Landscape, a division of American Landscape, Inc. run by Palisadians and Pali High alums (and high school sweethearts) Tracey and David Price, implemented those designs, adding 24-inch box privacy hedging screening for the handball courts, updating the irrigation system, and installing jacaranda trees and a Chinese elm in front of the school.
The new landscaping at Pali High also includes LED ground lighting, making the area safer for pedestrians at night, and includes lighting for the newly installed trees. Three new benches will also be installed next week in the gateway area.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to return to the community that we grew up in and beautify it, to work with local residents and enhance the village and the amenities that we all use and enjoy daily,” Tracey told the Post. “We’re honored to landscape our alma mater. We wanted to do something that was drought-tolerant, low-maintenance and would enhance pedestrian safety at night.”
Tracey has a personal stake in making that area of the school safer for students: In the fall of 2018, her two children, aged 18 and 14 at the time, were involved in an accident at that same intersection. Their car was T-boned and totaled by a full-sized pickup truck.
“This project hit very close to home,” Tracey shared. “In those split seconds before impact, my son had to evaluate. He knew if he swerved, he risked hitting pedestrians. He sped up to take the impact towards the rear of the vehicle. The car was totaled.
“This project improves the safety of the intersection and protects students. We consider it a privilege to work with the dedicated members of our community. We were so thankful we were able to provide some additional safety.”
The Price family has previously worked on the Los Angeles Fire Department Station 69 landscape renovations and landscaping at Palisades Village ahead of its opening last year.
The Gateway Committee, Booster Club and Pali High are currently working with Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office to relocate the bus shelter and advertising kiosk currently situated at the intersection.
“Those two components are really essential to making sure the safety aspects of the project get fully implemented, impeding the flow of traffic crossing at its peak,” Clark explained.
The Booster Club is also working to raise $10,000 for a new sign at the school’s entryway.
While a few final touches remain, parents and students will be able to enjoy a renewed entrance to the school when it reopens in mid-August.
“I’m so happy with it,” Clark said. “We had such generous donors and so much help from people who gave their support and time.”
To make a donation toward the new Pali High sign, contact email@example.com.