Squeezed in between a triangular lot surrounded by a parking lot, an industrial building, and the railways of the Gold Line station, Ed P. Reyes River Greenway was completed last October, yet still remains closed off to the public.
Despite rumors that have alleged this project's unavailability to the public might be fallout from political rivalry between Council District 1 councilmember Gil Cedillo and his predecessor Ed Reyes, Deborah Deets from the Bureau of Sanitation's (BOS) Watershed Protection Division adamantly says this isn't true. Deets says the reason the greenway hasn't been open is because of a security issue.
During construction, a major theft of equipment occurred on the one-acre site. Deets deigns to itemize what items eventually were stolen, but says they were high-priced. The incident brought to light that the facility, which was constructed to help clean L.A.'s stormwater runoff, also harbors some crucial equipment that could once again be a victim of similar crimes. Opening the greenway to the public could make it even more vulnerable.
"It's not that we don't want to open it. We're dying to open it," said Deets, "but we just have a feasibility issue." Early in the project, BOS initially had talks with Young Nak Celebration Church, which is a 10-minute walk away from the park, to help maintain the facility, but those arrangements fell through.
Deets explains that the greenway is the first-of-its-kind project for the Bureau of Sanitation, one that has left the agency with a few loose ends to tie up. "Calling the greenway a park is a misnomer," said Deets. "At a park, there are people who can respond to vandals or to reports of illegal activity. The Ed P. Reyes Greenway is a facility and it just happens to be beautifying your neighborhood. The Bureau of Sanitation isn't the Department of Recreation and Parks, we don't have rangers that can help ensure safety and security in the premises."
At Echo Park Lake and Lake Machado in Harbor City, certain elements are under the Department of Recreation and Parks, some are managed by the Bureau. At the Ed P. Reyes Greenway, the plan is that all the responsibility lies on the Bureau's shoulders. The agency has already broached the possibility of sharing responsibility with the Department of Recreation and Parks, but this has been politely declined by the second agency. "The plan is it's all on us," said Deets.
The silver lining in this story is that despite being closed to the public, the facility is up and running. It has been cleaning a 135-acre drainage area since it completed construction October.
"We certainly don't want to keep people out of it," said Deets, "but we just have to balance how we give the community a benefit without losing money." Until then, the Ed P. Reyes Greenway will remain a public good just out of the reach of public hands.