Environmental Quality / 2013
Reclaimed Park Strand Project
Access to parks is a major fallback for many neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Statistics from “Trust for Public Land”, No Space To Play, 2004 show that many of the areas with the highest children populations also have the least park access. The problem is not the lack of land, but the poor use of it. After researching old railroad lines in Los Angeles, we’ve stumbled upon strands of unused land left of from old railroad lines. One of these strands is from the Pacific Electric Exposition Line which ran from Santa Monica, to USC, and finally to the Los Angeles River. It was closed down many years ago, and recently the Metro Expo line has been over a portion of it from Culver City to USC, and north to Downtown. However, just east of the 110 Freeway, the remains of the old line carve thought city blocks, often gated off and unused or covered with asphalt to be used as parking. The project will be focus on reclaiming a part of this unused land that runs through two residential blocks and converting it to a green park strand. There are copious examples of land that used to serve now obsolete infrastructure being reused as public open space. One example is the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt which used to be another branch of the Pacific Electric Railroad, but has been converted into a green promenade for bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians. It connects Marina Del Rey to Hermosa Beach. The vision for 2050 is to create a similar green strand that will connect USC to the LA River, and provide ample green park space to the neighborhoods in between. However, to undertake such a large project it is important to start small and create a catalyst for change. We believe this project can be the catalyst for change because it will address a lack of park access in the neighborhood, and create a foundation for further growth. We believe the site between Maple Ave and San Pedro St., and 30th St. and 32nd St. is an ideal place for a park because there are only 3 other parks within a mile radius to be used by the children of 7 schools within the same mile radius. The park will not only provide public open space, but it will also serve as a pedestrian promenade between 2 elementary schools -29th Street Elementary and Delores Huerta Elementary. The much needed open space will not only improve the environmental quality of the area, but also provide a pedestrian link between the school for children to use. It will further benefit the low income community because park proximity has a direct correlation to home values. Furthermore, with the park’s proximity to the schools, is can be used as an extension of the campuses for educational purposes. The park will have areas for relaxation and recreation, as well as a community garden. This garden will be open to the community and can be used by the elementary school for teaching. Adjacent to the site is the Crossing at 29th Street Development by UHC LLC (http://www.uhcllc.net/crossingsat29th.php) which is a multi-phased project that deals with re-zoning the currently industrial properties to be redeveloped as multi-family residential homes and supporting facilities. The master plan for UHC project also features a green promenade on the land which was used as railroad infrastructure. This project will directly link to the green space and provide an extension for the green pedestrian promenade. Looking toward 2050, the goal is to keep reclaiming the unused parcels of land and extend the promenade for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists to connect to USC and Exposition Park on the west, and the Los Angeles River in the East. Please see our video presentation for a graphic explanation of the project.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
The foundation is a collaboration of two urban visionaries – Xander Tertychny and Eric Solis, who have both graduated from USC with a degree in Architecture. Xander has been involved with organizations such as Global Architecture Brigades and helped design and fundraise for projects benefiting underprivileged communities in Central America. He currently works for June Street Architecture. Eric currently works at HNTB and is part of the new 6th Street Viaduct project team, working with city officials and community leaders on creating successful urban public spaces for the Los Angeles community.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
We plan of working with the community leaders and the city representatives heavily at the start of the project in order to attain the land and maximize its use. We also plan on working with the schools to get feedback for creating the best environment and programs for children, utilizing the newly reclaimed park space. We are also very eager to work and consult with UHC LLC about how to most beneficently connect the green public spaces to reinvigorate the neighborhood. Finally, we are excited to use our professional resources to collaborate with the community to create a space everyone can enjoy.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
The project will be evaluation will be reflection of the impact on the community. We are eager to see of the new public green space being used by the local residents and schools. The best result would be full community and school engagement in the space, as well as creation of new educational or extra-curricular programs using the space. The more people use the space, the better we feel out putting our energy in creating it. We believe we can provide a foundation for the community to perpetuate our efforts. An example of this is creating the community garden – given the land, planters, soil, and seeds/plants for the garden; we will measure success by how much the community upkeeps and uses it. As the project grows, we will evaluate success in connecting to neighboring blocks and creating green public spaces from the currently unused lots. Our vision of success by 2050 is to connect a linear green promenade to USC and the LA River.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
On an immediate timeline, the project will benefit the local residents by providing a public park space and a community garden. It will benefit 29th Street Elementary and Delores Huerta Elementary by provide a campus extension for the children to play, as well as create a pedestrian connection between the two. The initial benefits reflect mostly on improving environmental quality, but as the project grows, we are looking to also create a new strand for Connectivity for Angelenos. By 2050, we intend to create a pleasant rout for bicyclists and joggers from USC to the LA River, as well as children returning home from their respective schools to their home somewhere in between the two destination points.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
If we can get on our bikes and take and trek through an urban park from USC to the Los Angeles River, the project is a success. If there is more green space for children to play, we would consider the project a success. If the local communities have a place to gather, relax, and collaborate, the project is a success. If schools are linked by a green strip of parkland that children can use to get home rather than walking by industrial warehouses, the project is a success. If all these are true in 2050, the project has been executed in the way we envision it.