By Carren Jao
With hefty grant money in its coffers, the Albion Riverside Park is one step closer to reality. The City Council has authorized the Department of Recreation and Parks to receive a $5 million grant from Proposition 84 Statewide Park Program funds, which finances the creation of new parks and recreation facilities for underserved California communities.
"It's a very exciting site," said Councilman Ed Reyes, "It'll change the image of the corridor to become a much more desirable place to invest, create jobs and stimulate new economies because of its proximity to downtown."
The Albion Riverside Park is a 6.3-acre extension of Downey Park in Lincoln Heights. Previously a Ross Swiss Dairy plant, the city purchased the property in 2009 using $17.5 million in funds from Proposition O, a bond measure earmarked for clean-water projects. Upon completion, Councilman Reyes envisions a dual-purpose facility that improves stormwater quality underground while providing the community with much needed green spaces and recreation areas above. The Albion Park's final design incorporates a new multipurpose athletic field, walking and bike paths, and a host of other recreational features.
According to Reyes' office, the grant money will be used to build much of the park's facilities above ground including all of its landscaping and lighting. Under Prop 84 guidelines, the city has until December 31, 2016 to complete the project. But before any visible site improvements can begin, additional funds will still need to be secured for the park's underground water improvement facilities.
Reyes's office is submitting a proposal for additional Prop O funds estimated at $10 million for underground facilities. It is also seeking approximately $1 million in Proposition K funds, set aside for development and maintenance of active, youth-oriented facilities, to re-do the deteriorating basketball court and baseball field in the existing Downey Park Recreation Center.