FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2012
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Wins $5,000,000 for Local Park Projects
Four projects will improve urban parkland in densely populated and park-poor areas of Los Angeles County
Los Angeles-The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) announced today that it has won $5 million in highly competitive Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization grants awarded by California State Parks. The grants are to create new parks and recreation opportunities in the most critically underserved communities in California.
"We are extremely gratified that these new funding sources will further our core mission to create public parkland in close proximity to the urban core," said Joseph T. Edmiston, Executive Officer of the MRCA. "These four projects, which all make use of existing public resources to create neighborhood parks, represent great partnerships between the MRCA, other public agencies, and the communities we serve."
With the success of the August F. Hawkins Natural Park in South Los Angeles, and Vista Hermosa Natural Park west of downtown Los Angeles, the MRCA is recognized nationally for creating parklands that return nature to the urban core while improving neighborhoods, educating residents, and increasing all children's access to nature. The MRCA uses a collaborative approach to building these projects, involving the community in the planning process early on.
The projects that were awarded grant funds are:
Los Angeles River Marsh Park (Elysian Park) - $725,000
Marsh Park, currently in design, is the conversion of 2.8 acres of vacant land into a Los Angeles River-oriented natural park. The newly secured funding will add an open air picnic shelter and community gathering spaces to the project.
Pacoima Wash Greenway-El Dorado Park (Northeast San Fernando Valley) - $1,075,500
In partnership with the City of Los Angeles, this project is the conversion of a 1.2-acre vacant lot into a natural open space public park directly adjacent to Pacoima Wash. This will be MRCA's second new park on Pacoima Wash, complementing the Eighth Street Park project now under construction.
Compton Creek Natural Park at Washington Elementary, Phase 1C (Compton) - $1,035,708
As a partner of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Compton Unified School District, this project will complete Compton Creek Natural Park by converting 1.3 acres of vacant school property into parkland featuring learning gardens and recreational amenities for children.
Franklin/Ivar Park (Hollywood)- $2,000,000
In partnership with the Hollywood Dell Civic Association, this project is the conversion of a .75-acre vacant parcel into a natural park with amenities to improve public health and recreational opportunities.
The MRCA is a local government public entity dedicated to the preservation and management of open space, urban parkland, watershed lands, trails, and wildlife habitat. The MRCA manages almost 60,000 acres of public parkland and provides natural resources and scientific expertise, critical regional planning services, park construction, operations, fire prevention and ranger services, as well as education and leadership programs for thousands of youth each year. It is one of the lead agencies revitalizing the Los Angeles River and its tributaries.
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Contact: Dash Stolarz Director of Public Affairs
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (323) 221-9944 x198
From Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website
This artist's rendering shows how a new park next to a Hollywood Freeway off-ramp will look when completed.
Four of Los Angeles’ newest planned parks could fit comfortably into a tiny fraction of Griffith Park’s sprawling 4,210 acres.
But the new parks, ranging in size from ¾ of an acre to 2.8 acres, have grand, out-of-the-box ambitions of their own—and each could play a transformative role in the aesthetics, health and recreation of their communities.
The parks will be funded by $5 million in state grants recently awarded to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, which will work with community groups to develop the new recreational expanses in Hollywood and Pacoima—both in the 3rd Supervisorial District—as well as in Elysian Park and Compton.
All of the parks promise to bring small-scale pleasures, along with forward-looking environmental features, to areas hungry for a little green space.
“I think that L.A. is just a concrete jungle. The parks are large and they’re far away. People have to drive to get to Griffith Park,” said landscape architect Jeff Hutchins, a principal in Mia Lehrer + Associates, which is working on the ¾-acre Hollywood project. “People don’t necessarily need basketball courts or running tracks. People just need someplace close by to sit and reflect and spend some time with their family.”
The Franklin/Ivar Park, to be created on a triangular parcel below the Vine Street off-ramp of the Hollywood Freeway, represents the power of consistent neighborhood involvement in getting such projects off the ground.
“We have absolutely zero green space in this neighborhood,” said Terri Gerger, who’s heading up the initiative for the Hollywood Dell Civic Association, a longtime backer of the project. “There is no park space for kids.”
The lot, originally acquired by Caltrans when the 101 Freeway was built, has been vacant since the 1950s. George Abrahams, an adopt-a-freeway volunteer who lives in nearby Beachwood Canyon, has devoted untold hours to clearing the property of debris and keeping its exuberant bougainvillea in check over the years.
Going through the lot, where homeless people and drug users once congregated, “was like an archaeological dig,” he said. “I pulled about five or six thousand needles out of that area.”
This vacant lot in Hollywood will become a park.
At the urging of the community, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy purchased the property from Caltrans for $162,100 in 2008, with a significant contribution from the developer NCA/Commonfund, help from private donations and funding from state Prop. 84.
Now the grant from the conservancy’s partner agency, the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, will deliver $2 million to transform the Franklin/Ivar site. Plans call for a “carbon eater tree screen” to help absorb and filter polluted air coming off the freeway ramp, a water reclamation feature, a solar-gathering shade area, a water fountain, a demonstration garden, an “adventure play area” for kids, public art, and even an amphitheatre and grotto. And there’ll be Wi-Fi—an important attraction, Gerger says, for students at nearby trade and technical schools who are expected to use the park along with local residents.
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