January 31, 2013 Local News & Culture. Marina del Rey Westchester Free S a n ta M o n i c a P l aya d e l R e y Photo by Jorge M. VargaS. Jr. Wetlands birds like these could soon be sharing a section of Area C of the Ballona Wetlands with an interpretive nature center funded by the Annenberg Foundation. P l aya V i s t a M a r V i s ta Del Rey VenicE ‘WE’RE GETTING A NEW NEIGHBOR’ Ballona Wetlands Proposed center in ecological reserve widens rift between state agencies and some environmental groups By Gary Walker News of an interpretive center planned for the Ballona Wetlands is the latest point of disagreement between local conservation organizations that have been involved with the 600-acre reserve for several years and state agencies with disparate views on how it should be refurbished. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, formerly the Department of Fish and Game, entered into an agreement with the Santa Monica based Annenberg Foundation that will allow the construction of a $50-million facility that will be located near Culver Boulevard in what is known as Area C, near the 90 Freeway. “We hope this center will become a place where community members can come to learn how nature works, and how each of them is a part of it,” said Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This effort is the kind of legacy project we need, with education programs to help instill a sense of stewardship in these urban communities that might otherwise not be fulfilled.” The foundation, which has assisted with funding in other local ventures including the Westchester Park Skate Plaza, signed a memorandum of understanding Jan. 28 with the Fish and Wildlife. (Continued on page 4) By Vince Echavaria Supporters of a nuclear mushroom cloud sculpture in Santa Monica have been given some breathing room in their campaign to preserve the late Paul Conrad’s artwork for future generations. Having previously been given additional time to raise money for needed maintenance to Chain Reaction, supporters were allotted an extra year for their effort when the Santa Monica City Council voted 6-1 Jan. 22 to keep the fenced sculpture at its Civic Center location at least through Feb. 1, 2014. The 26-foottall structure made of chain links, which is constructed of copper tubing over a fiberglass core with an internal stainless steel frame, has stood at the site since 1991. The council approved $20,000 in spending to temporarily patch and secure the work through the next year. Supporters, who have raised under $10,000 toward the refurbishment, would additionally be given $50,000 from the city’s General Fund to be matched on a dollarfor-dollar basis for the fundraising cam- paign. Concerns about the sculpture’s structural integrity arose in summer 2011 after a city building official saw some people climbing on the piece. Following preliminary testing, a wide range of estimates were provided to either repair or rebuild Chain Reaction, with one proposal as high as $555,000, including the installation of an $80,000 landscape barrier. City officials emphasized concerns about the potential costs required to ensure the sculpture’s safety to the public but supported extending the fundraising deadline, as activists say they will be supported by a professional grant writer. “I think it’s clear that we ought to give the community another 12 months to have a shot at raising this money,” Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day said. Activist Jerry Rubin – who has helped lead the fundraising cause for Santa Monica’s first landmarked public art piece – applauded the city’s support, saying Conrad’s family and the community deserve the time extension. “I think Chain Reaction is well worth giving it the extra time to save and restore it,” Rubin said. “I think the many people in the community who are trying to put energy into this important campaign fully deserve the city’s cooperation in this campaign.” David Conrad, the son of the late Los Angeles Times political cartoonist, believes that having an endorsement of the City Council will strengthen the call for financial backing when approaching foundations and other groups. “Now that they’re committing some money, when we go to art foundations they’re more likely to donate because they know the city’s behind it,” he said. A gift to the city that was funded by a private donation of $250,000, Paul Conrad’s Chain Reaction was meant to call attention to the threat of nuclear weapons on the world. The three-time Pulitzer Prize winner’s son believes that message conveyed by the chain-link sculpture still resonates today. Several speakers agreed that the artwork’s significance still holds strong (Continued on page 11) Photo by Scotty Hall Santa Monica City Council gives one-year •This Week• extension for anti-nuclear sculpture fundraising Page 13 Jorma Kaukonen, co-founder of 1960s-era rock group Jefferson Airplane and spinoff band Hot Tuna, will play shows at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica Feb. 1 and 2.