Sylmar For its annual spring management meeting, ValleyCrest Companies got its people out of a meeting room and into a vacant lot. But by the end of the day on March 1 that 1 & #378;-acre lot had been transformed into a brand new park for Sylmar, with soccer fields, playground, and barbecue area. What would typically cost $500,000 and take several years to complete was done in one day by Calabasas-based landscaping firm ValleyCrest, which donated the time, labor and materials for what is now called ValleyCrest TelFair Park, 15271 Cobalt St. The idea to have company managers donate their time came from company President Richard Sperber who wanted the spring meeting to be different from those in the past. “He said ‘This year let’s build a park here in the city so everyone can have the experience of building and go home and say we gave the city a park,'” said ValleyCrest Founder and CEO Burton Sperber. “The idea was perfect.” ValleyCrest landscape architects designed the park to meet city specifications and employed an irrigation system that saves water. For it’s 50th anniversary in 1999, ValleyCrest had constructed three smaller parks but nothing the size of the one in Sylmar. The company consulted with area elected officials to find a site and ended up with a dozen to choose from. “Richard chose this one because it was the right size and the right neighborhood,” Sperber said. It also turns out that nearly 100 ValleyCrest employees live in the neighborhood of the park, Sperber said. Open space in the Valley and in the Los Angeles area in general is a rare commodity so the new park is welcome, said Ron Berkowitz, Superintendent of the Valley region for the Recreation and Parks Department. “It is plenty of space for kids to play with accessible play equipment to put disabled kids on an equal basis,” Berkowitz said. “You can walk, you can jog, and it’s easy to get to because it’s right off the freeway.” The project represents a way of how local government and private companies can partner up to improve a neighborhood. In talking with parks department officials, Sperber said he was told that going through the standard channels a park of the size in Sylmar would take several years to build. “With the red tape of building any public facility the hoops are higher than most people want to jump,” Sperber said. “We didn’t have to go through that process.” The company would consider doing another park building project for its 60th anniversary in 2009, Sperber said. ANTELOPE VALLEY Lancaster Kudos: The city has won an advertising industry trade award for its California Poppy Festival website. The International Festivals and Events Association awarded the city a gold-level Haas and Wilkerson Pinnacle award for best festival website on a budget of less than $250,000. Three students from Antelope Valley High School designed the site. The festival this year is April 21 and 22. CONEJO VALLEY Thousand Oaks Health: Construction has started on a new health center that’s part of the University Village Thousand Oaks retirement village underway near California Lutheran University. Called OakView, the 75,000-square-foot facility will include skilled nursing services, hospice and rehabilitative services. The center, which will also be accessible to the public, is expected to open early next year. The first units of University Village are set to open in the fall. SANTA CLARITA VALLEY Santa Clarita Home: A new home furnishings store has opened at Soledad Canyon and Golden Valley roads. Bella Venezia Home and D & #233;cor features old world and exotic furniture and decorator items and specializes in custom office built-ins and entertainment centers. The family-owned business is at 21021 Soledad Canyon Road in Suite 106. Saugus Pets: Seco Canyon Animal clinic held a grand opening for its new facility Feb. 15. The veterinarian and pet care center is located at 27935 Seco Canyon Road. SAN FERNANDO VALLEY Glendale Tower: An iconic Glendale office tower, always known as 500 N. Brand, has been dubbed with a new name following a contest to give the property a more distinctive identity. The property will now be called The Lexington, a name selected from some 100 entries submitted by local real estate brokers. ING Clarion Partners, which acquired the building last March, initiated the contest to distinguish the property from its neighbors, most of which have traditionally used street addresses, not names, in the Glendale area. “Most of the office properties in the Glendale market are known solely by their address,” said Annie Kodak, senior vice president and asset director with ING Clarion Partners. “It was important for us to differentiate ourselves through the naming of the building. This is only one of many changes that will be implemented to re-brand and enhance the prominence of the building.” ING Clarion has also remodeled the building lobby and added a caf & #233; with outdoor seating. The new name was actually derived from a combination of two winning entries, one from Robert Pearson, a broker with Transwestern, and one from Alexander Wadley, a broker with Lee & Associates L.A. North/Ventura in Sherman Oaks. Pacoima Open: The Pacoima Federal Development Credit Union has finally opened in Pacoima after a series of delays related to the renovation of the building where it is housed. The credit union first received its charter in February, 2005, and has been operating out of offices in Lakeview Terrace, which will remain open at least until September when officials will evaluate the center’s performance. “We’re the only financial institution in Lakeview Terrace, so we’re being encouraged to keep it open,” said Roberto Barragan, chairman and CEO of the credit union and president of the Valley Economic Development Center, which sponsored the credit union. The credit union currently has 415 members, $2.4 million in assets and nearly $1 million in deposits. Barragan said it added 40 members since opening at its Pacoima location. “As we suspected, the location itself has given us a big hook,” said Barragan. The credit union has also just received approval to begin making Small Business Administration-backed business loans, Barragan said. Membership in the credit union is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or owns a business in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Members of the Pacoima Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry & Commerce Association are also eligible to join. The main branch is located at 13168 Van Nuys Blvd. Reseda Training: The North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a free, 7-week Community Emergency Response Team program training. The training takes place at First United Methodist Church of Reseda beginning March 13. Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters and paramedics instruct attendees on fire suppression techniques, earthquake awareness, light search and rescue operations, disaster medical operations, and team organization and disaster psychology. Space is limited and an RSVP is required. To reserve a space or for more information call (818) 349-5676. Sherman Oaks Learn: DeVry University is moving its West Hills campus to a smaller facility in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. The school last fall sold its West Hills campus on Roscoe Boulevard for more than $35 million to a property trust and signed a 35,000-square-foot lease for space at the mall. The downsize was prompted by more students participating in online courses, which means less need for traditional classrooms. DeVry, which has 84 campuses across the country, opened the 22-acre West Hills facility in 1999. Toluca Lake Eat: A new wine and tapas bar has opened in the east Valley. Brad Rosen, who runs the successful Wine 661 in Valencia, this winter launched Eight-18 with a Latin-inspired menu and 150-bottle wine list. The nightspot at 10151 Riverside Drive also features live music on Thursday nights. Valley Glen Singing: The “Doo Wop Rock ‘n’ Roll Spring Fling 2007” takes place at 7 p.m., March 10 at Monarch Hall Auditorium at Los Angeles Valley College. The evening features The Mighty Echoes, Southern California’s most accomplished a cappella group. The Valley College Emergency Services Department and the LAVC Patron’s Association sponsor the event. Proceeds will benefit student scholarships and department-related programs. Tickets are $15. Student tickets cost $12. Woodland Hills Center: Kahromic Contracting, Inc. was awarded a $2.4 million contract to renovate the campus center at Pierce College. Kahromic, based in Glendale, will complete structural renovations and upgrades to the building’s fire resistance, disabled accessibility, restrooms, data and communications systems, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The contract is paid from a $2.2 billion bond measure and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “The Los Angeles Community College District’s construction projects from the bond program have provided my company and workers with great opportunities where we can tangibly see our work making a difference in the community,” said Kahromic Contracting President Vartkes Tomassian.