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Community exults over approval of Leimert Park station

Stanley O. Williford | 5/23/2013, 5 p.m.

A quickly-assembled, celebratory crowd of about 200 persons rejoiced in Leimert Park Friday over the revelation Thursday that the Metropolitan Transit Authority had agreed to fund the Leimert Park Village Station on the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line.

The station had been a sore point that embroiled African American politicians and community activists in a war of words with the MTA board for months since the agency had initially voted not to fund the station in 2011. The board rationale was that it could only support the station if contractors could build it without exceeding the overall project's $1.7-billion budget. At that time, board support appeared unlikely.

"There's good news in the village today," proclaimed Second District County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who then quoted the African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. "It takes a village to a raise station at Leimert Park. We did it together."

Ridley-Thomas noted that "we are here in the memory and out of respect for the honorable Tom Bradley, and we should not forget his dream."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that for 33 years he and Ridley-Thomas had been working together. ". . . we have to understand that when we work together, we get things done."

"This is celebration of you. This is a celebration of a community that is vibrant, that has always been a big part of this town from the very beginning," said Villaraigosa. "Need I remind you that 26 of the 44 settlers that founded this town came from Africa."

"All I want to do is give some thank-yous," said City Council President Herb Wesson. "The most important group that made this possible--that's you," Wesson said. He went on to acknowledge a group from Westchester that supported the Leimert Park station; Damien Goodmon, executive director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition; City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks; and Councilwoman Jan Perry.

But he said of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas: "He's been our champion."

Councilwoman Jan Perry told the gathering that all the hard work had finally paid off, but "now we can't relax. This is just the beginning," she noted, as did Ridley-Thomas, and said, "we did it together."

What appears to have paved the way for this breakthrough was a move by Parks to find the necessary funding for construction of the Leimert Park station.

Recently, on a motion by Parks, the City Council had committed $40 million toward the design and construction of the station. The board on Thursday voted to add another $80 million.