City plans park in lot that has been vacant for 60 years

By Sue Favor

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — In just over a year from now, a long-vacant lot will be transformed into a picturesque park, thanks to an agreement between two city agencies.

After a planning period that will incorporate suggestions from residents, construction on a 20,000-square-foot lot on the southeast corner of 58th Street and South Figueroa Avenue will begin early next summer to transform from an area that lacks green space.

The site once housed an Los Angeles Department of Water and Power pump station that was shut down in 1959 and demolished. The DWP and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks recently redesignated the area under a memorandum of understanding, in consultation with Council District 9.

The park will be named after the late state Sen. Bill Greene, a civil rights activist and “freedom rider” who served in the state Legislature for 25 years.

“This is an example of city departments working together to achieve something great for the community at large,” said Cynthia McClain-Hill, president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners at an event Aug. 28 to announce the partnership and plans for the lot. “We have an opportunity to do something truly transforming here, and I couldn’t be happier about turning this underutilized DWP property into a beautiful park honoring the late Senator Bill Greene and his legacy fighting for civil rights. I have no doubt this park will serve as an anchor and gathering place for the residents and families in this community.”

The Trust for Public Land’s 2021 “ParkScore” for Los Angeles is 71 out of 100 for metropolitan areas. Residents see about half as much acreage of parks per person as those in other cities, and only 24% of the amenities.

Another access issue for residents is that many parks in Los Angeles are in more affluent areas. In measuring park space by ethnicity relative to the median amount of space, neighborhoods of color have 13% less space and white neighborhoods have 153% more. Black neighborhoods have 37% less park space — a bigger disparity than any other ethnic group.

City Councilman Curren Price said he is excited to put some dents in those figures.

“For far too long South L.A. has been considered a park desert and over the years I have worked hard to create more green spaces within our community,” he said. “Working alongside DWP and the Department of Recreation and Parks to revamp an area that has sat idle for over 60 years, we are well on our way to providing residents with more outdoor space to enjoy.”

After the announcement last weekend, agency officials and Price opened the floor for input from residents as to what they wouldd like to see in the new park. Suggestions and requests will be taken over the next six months or so, and will be an integral component of the design process.

The park’s completion date will be late 2022 or early 2023. The DWP will reimburse the Parks Department up to $3.6 million for design and construction of the park.