Area residents and business people gathered in the middle of Avenue 50, just off of York Boulevard, the morning of Saturday, April 21 to celebrate the awarding of state bond money for a park at the corner.
The gathering was sponsored by the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar. Huizar is spearheading a community visioning process for York Boulevard, and community members had ranked a neighborhood park high on their list of priorities.
Several events took place at just about the same time last summer, making the long-hoped for park possible—community members voted for it as part of the vision process; the State declared the land, a contaminated former gas station site, cleaned up enough for use; the land came on the market and applications for a round of Proposition 84 state bond funds for parks became available.
The competition for the bond money was fierce. About 12 applicants lost out for every one that was accepted.
“Because of the community’s loud voice, we have received funding,” Huizar said at the celebration.
Huizar was joined at the podium by local State Senator Kevin de León, who introduced the measure in Sacramento that got a substantial chunk of the Prop 84 funds directed to working class, park-poor neighborhoods like the York corridor and its side streets.
“Parks are for everybody,” said de León, “and they shouldn’t be dictated by one’s financial wherewithal.”
Neighborhood resident Clara Jolon pointed out that there are four elementary schools not far from the corner, meaning that there are at least 2,000 public school students in the area who will benefit from a local park.
It may have taken a long time for residents to get what they wanted on the site, but may-be the wait was for the best. The land first became a vacant lot at a time when development on a business corridor usually meant a strip mall.
“We’re part of a new generation,” said Huizar. “We’re trying to reverse the lack of vision, the years of neglect.”
Now that the funding has been awarded, the next step is for the City to actually purchase the land. The new park will be under the management of the City Department of Recreation and Parks, which will be working closely with Huizar’s office on the purchase and development. The process will take possibly a few months.
“But it is clear it is going to happen,” says Steve Rasmussen-Cancian, a consultant working with Huizar’s office and with the community on a vision plan for York Boulevard.
When the land actually changes hands, Huizar plans to host another celebration—that one actually on the land instead of in the middle of the street.
The park is part of a process instituted by Huizar through which community members have also chosen to have a street porch on York near the passage to the parking lot on Lincoln and historic-style street lighting. There is a long-range vision plan in development.
Several businesses that have taken up residence on York since the visioning process began received certificates of recognition from the City as part of the ceremony—among them: Highland Café, New York Snow, Pop-Hop, Sawhorse, Showtime, Platform, Matters of Space and Meridian.