Today wasn't just another groundbreaking among a growing series of parks along the Los Angeles River. It was also a tribute to the ongoing efforts of Councilman Ed Reyes (CD1) to establish a massive greenway along the long-neglected 52-mile waterway.
The Los Angeles River, which has been encased in cement since the 1930s to protect the fast-growing city from life-threatening floods, has recently been a primary focus of the city to roll back the damage. As Chair of the Ad-Hoc River Committee, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Friday, Councilman Reyes has overseen the establishment of the Los Angeles River Master Plan, echoing the 1930 Olmsted Brothers plan to establish an "Emerald Necklace" along the river:
"Continued prosperity [in Los Angeles] will depend on providing needed parks," read the Olmsted Report, "because with the growth of a great metropolis here, the absence of parks will make living conditions less and less attractive, less and less wholesome. . . In so far, therefore, as the people fail to show the understanding, courage, and organizing ability necessary at this crisis, the growth of the Region will tend to strangle itself."
Today's groundbreaking took place at Avenue 18 and Barranca Street in Lincoln Heights, where a small 1-acre park will be created at a former industrial field a short distance from the former Lincoln Heights Jail. Slated to open before the end of Reyes' term this June, the park involves construction of a stormwater greenway to filter pollutants from urban runoff before emptying into the river while providing natural habitant, communal space, and the connection of several bikeways from Avenue 19 and Humboldt Street to Avenue 18.
The admiration from the city, Councilman Reyes' office, and his peers was exhibited through the dedication of the park under his name, formally calling the park the Ed P. Reyes Riverway. This was much to his surprise, as he fought back tears, he said, "All I can say is thank you."
Photos by Justin Cram