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The Los Angeles State Historic Park -- better known as the Cornfield -- has had a contentious past with activists fighting to turn this 32-acre abandoned rail yard east of Chinatown into a public amenity. More than a decade after the needs of the community triumphed over developer plans, the neighborhood has yet to see a park in full bloom. With luck, that time may soon be at hand.
On May 9, the Senate sub-committee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation approved a $20.8 million budget for the Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP). The vote comes after a similar approval by an Assembly subcommittee on Resources and Transportation March 20.
If approved by Governor Jerry Brown this June, the funds would go toward Phase I of the park's construction, said Nidia Bautista, Legislative Consultant at the office of Senator Kevin de Leόn. It would fund "a gamut, from construction, sewer lines, all the infrastructure, and the interpretative services."
Bautista expressed confidence that the budget would remain intact. "Considering the governor had it in his proposal, we're feeling very encouraged that that project will in fact receive that funding."
Historically a Southern Pacific Railroad Company's River Station railroad yard, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) acquired and has operated the site since December 2001 with the intention of providing more open space in the neighborhood and integrating it into the overall efforts of revitalizing the Los Angeles River.
While the park is currently open for picnicking, jogging and other light activities, Phase I construction would add bioswales for stormwater retention and capture, an automated irrigiation system to receive reclaimed stormwater or river water, three event spaces including one that could host up to 12,000 people, a 14-foot tall elevated walkway that would showcase an "archeological reveal space" that highlights some structures used when the land was a railyard, a children's play area, plus additional tree-lined promenades and pedestrian walkways. It also would plant 550 additional trees on the site. Construction is expected to take a year from approval, with the park closing to the public at the time.
Top: L.A. State Historic Park. Photo by calvinfleming/flickr/Creative Commons