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Sunnynook River Park Opens Along the L.A. River

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This month has been good for parks in L.A. Following the opening of the brand new Nature Gardens at Natural History Museum and Spring Street Park, and the re-opening of Echo Park Lake, Angelenos have another new public space to perhaps make other cities green with envy.

This morning Sunnynook River Park was unveiled to the public. Situated between two pedestrian bridges that connect the river to Griffith Park and Atwater Village, across the 5 Freeway and the L.A. River, the new park joins several other parks and parklets that have opened along the river in recent years, including Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, Steelhead Park, Egret Park, Rattlesnake Park, Marsh Park, and Rio de Los Angeles State Park.

The $1.7 million Sunnynook River Park, which had been approved by the city in 2008 and broke ground in 2012, was financed by Caltrans and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and developed on a three-acre parcel that had been "orphaned and abandoned," according to City Engineer Gary Lee Moore, who spoke at the dedication ceremony. With the creation of the park, over 50 new native trees were planted, and over 100 trees were kept in tact. "But we did get rid of all the weeds and the poison oak," Moore said.

Sunnynook River Park is situated right along the bike path
1/4 Sunnynook River Park is situated right along the bike path
The park is located right north of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge
2/4 The park is located right north of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge
New signage provides information on the L.A. River and native plants
3/4 New signage provides information on the L.A. River and native plants
Over 50 new native plants were planted by the river
4/4 Over 50 new native plants were planted by the river

The ribbon-cutting was attended by many community members and long-time River advocates, including Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Ed Reyes, and Friend of the L.A. River Lewis MacAdams, whose work on the river was honored in the form of the park's walkway: Lewis MacAdams Riverwalk.

"This is a great honor and something that I'm incredibly embarrassed about," said MacAdams. "But I am excited to accept in the name of the people that are gathered here, in the name of the carp, in the name of the great blue herons, in the name of the osprey, and in the name of everybody in this beautiful new park created by the city."

The park's walkway is named in honor of Friend of the L.A. River Lewis MacAdams
1/2 The park's walkway is named in honor of Friend of the L.A. River Lewis MacAdams
Councilmembers Ed Reyes, Tom LaBonge, and Councilmember-elect Mitch O'Farrell are among those who posed for the ribbon cutting photo-op
2/2 Councilmembers Ed Reyes, Tom LaBonge, and Councilmember-elect Mitch O'Farrell are among those who posed for the ribbon cutting photo-op

The entire length of the L.A. River should be functionally built out with a bike path by 2020, according to Michelle Mowery from Los Angeles Department of Transportation. When that happens, this park will be a welcome spot for a short break for a cyclist traversing all the way from the Valley to Long Beach.

Councilmember-elect Mitch O'Farrell, who has been a long-time advocate for the revitalization of the river, was excited to complete one piece of the puzzle that is the L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan. "The future is bright for the river ... [but] this is only the beginning of something wonderful for Atwater Village, for Silver Lake, and the whole city of Los Angeles."

The new plaque for the Lewis MacAdams Riverwalk reads:

At the center of itself
the river is silence.

The river park's location adjacent to the thunderous freeway makes it far from silent, but for MacAdams, the new park is "a symbol of people's reawakening sense of place, where they are and where they live -- and that's alongside the L.A. River."

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Photos: Yosuke Kitazawa and Rubi Fregoso/KCET Departures

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