Future L.A. River Park $5 Million Closer to Reality

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.

Old Swiss Dairy Demolished For Unfunded Riverside Park

By James Brasuell

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took to a backhoe yesterday to help demolish the former site of Ross Swiss Dairy in Lincoln Heights. The demolition and the photo op were a chance to remind the public that there is still a Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, approved in 2007, but largely unfunded in 2011. The city bought the ten acre Ross Swiss site in 2009, for instance, using $17.5 million in Proposition O funds (a bond measure for clean water projects), and has plans for a riverfront park at the site that will include baseball fields, landscaping, and an underground irrigation system. For now, however, the demolition will have to do, because there isn't any money to actually build the park. The Daily News talked to Lewis McAdams, founder of the nonprofit Friends of LA River, who summed up the current condition of basically everyone in the development game these days: "In times of no money, you plan," adding, "When you get money, you start the plans." There are attempts to buy and parkify riverside land in many places along the river, including in Studio City, where a nonprofit is trying get Prop O funds to help purchase the Weddington Golf & Tennis Club and turn it into open space.