Harvard-Westlake Awaits River Park Approval


Harvard-Westlake River Park

The Harvard-Westlake River Park awaits final approval to commence construction.

After years of planning, design work, revisions and redesigns, the Harvard-Westlake River Park awaits final approval to commence construction.

Since first purchasing Weddington Golf and Tennis back in 2017, Harvard-Westlake (HW) has committed an immense amount of time and resources towards the construction of the school’s new sports complex and public facilities. Five years later, Weddington, now renamed “Harvard-Westlake River Park” is pending approval while many Studio City residents continue to oppose the project.

In response to the negativity voiced by members of the community, HW has proposed several changes to the original plans. These revisions have appeased some of the River Park’s opposers, but it has nonetheless been an uphill battle towards approval with two groups, in particular, Save Weddington and Save LA River Open Space, continuing to fight against the school. Their objections to the destruction of the current facilities have become major roadblocks to receiving the consent needed in order to commence construction. 

HW continues to explore solutions to satisfy the needs of all members of the community. Restricting outdoor activities past 8 p.m. and adding an underground parking structure to address traffic and street parking concerns are two examples of the school’s continued efforts to promote the idea.

In addition to the proposed 500-car garage, Harvard-Westlake has agreed to share six of the 16acres of property with the public. Community members will have access to walking and jogging trails, new athletic facilities and natural spaces including plazas, water features and wooded areas.

For many Studio City residents, the amenities promised by the new River Park are simply not enough to support the loss of precious memories spent at the beloved Weddington Golf and Tennis.

“It truly is a nostalgic place… I went to Weddington as a kid, and I took my own children to Weddington. There are memories that are created there that I don’t want to see replaced [by the River Park],” a longtime resident of Studio City said.

The River Park does, in fact, have supporters in the community as well.

“I’m excited to see [Weddington] modernized and turned into a much more functional space,” another Studio City local said. 

For now, though, Studio City residents and members of the HW community find themselves continuing to wait on news and updates. 

As of March 2020, the River Park team submitted a revised site plan proposal that includes changes to the aesthetics, functionality, and environmental impact of the development. If approved, the updated proposal includes two athletic fields (one with a track), a 50-meter swimming pool, eight tennis courts and a gymnasium. The areas that remain will serve as public spaces with walking trails, lush garden features and several other amenities. 

The most recent site plan also includes a new drainage system for absorbing, cleaning and reusing stormwater both onsite and by the residential neighborhood to the north of the River Park. Supporters of the project are hopeful that this will serve as an example of HW’S commitment to both the community and the environment.

Though the River Park is months away from receiving the necessary approval, many are confident that, once completed, the facilities will be worth the wait.

“Obviously, the project approval process still has a ways to go before our vision becomes reality, but we are confident that when completed, the River Park will become a treasured addition to our school for our students and the greater Los Angeles community to enjoy for generations to come,” Head of School Rick Commons said in a recent email to the HW community.

It is clear that HW has a difficult journey ahead in developing the new athletic campus, but with continued hard work and dedication, the River Park may become a reality sooner than expected.