Community Spotlight: Residents and youth gather for park celebration

On Saturday, January 23rd, members of the community of various ages came together for a milestone event arranged by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust to celebrate and exchange ideas for the development of a long-anticipated park. At the corner of Budlong Avenue and 204th Street, the 8.5 acre parcel of land includes the former buyout area where 60 homes once stood over a decade ago. The state of this sensitive space has been one of uncertainty for so long, with numerous events over the years speaking to the imminence of a safe and healthy park for the community to play, come together, and enjoy.

Saturday marked the official declaration and celebration of what has come from the efforts of many to ensure the future state of this land, whatever it may be, will happen under the guidance and vision of those it will serve rather than corporate entities, polluters, or other parties far removed from our beloved community. As of November 2015, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust non-profit owns the land and is moving forward with the building and development of the park. The park celebration was set up under a large tent in the to-be park area, with exhibits and posters, info packets and maps, and tables for group activities and dialogue. The whole event was translated for Spanish speaking residents.

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The cloudy skies and chilly morning did not deter the shining stars of the event this weekend: the spirited and spunky local youth who grew up hearing about a park that they would never see as little kids (they are now teenagers, many in their senior year of high school) but will always be the inheritors and participated in its visioning all along. After being recognized by DAAC with certificates for their involvement in the park planning over the years, the group got to work on an activity with concept maps of the park, and a list of planned amenities including a baseball diamond, a basketball court, futsal courts (miniature soccer courts), jogging/walking circle, a picnic area, and more. Another column was a list of other options for each table to consider and then share with the group what they wanted to include in the park from the list. The youth table vied for an additional half basketball court, more distributed parking (to accommodate older folks less able to walk from other parts of the neighborhood), and a concert stage for events and talent shows.

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Others spoke about considerations that weren’t on the list but should be addressed in the park design, such as overall safety measures and ways to protect homes along the park perimeter, others discussed ideas to prevent tagging.

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There will be much more to discuss and weigh in on as the development and planning process moves forward, and we are excited to work in partnership and respect to make this park the one you want, the place you love.

We believe in building this park on the principle of precaution, knowing what we know about the contamination (and fiercely pursuing what we do not). This is not a mantra or an ideal, but an absolute condition for the safety and welfare for everyone who looks forward to enjoying this space. We hope you will join us in this call to action: to engage in our park development process with deliberation, knowledge, and willingness to work together in a spirit of involvement.

We deeply thank everyone who came to this event, to the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, DAAC youth and emeritus board members, all of those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. None of this is possible without you.

Press Coverage:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/lifestyle/20160123/harbor-gateway-celebrates-milestone-in-fight-for-park-in-toxic-neighborhood

Other recent press:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/environment-and-nature/20151220/harbor-gateway-superfund-site-cleanup-on-hold

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