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The Fight over Elysian Reservoir

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 22, 2007, at 05:23PM
Elysian Park by Bicycle Eric Richardson [Flickr]

It may be that I'm on a one-man quest to push Elysian Park on Downtowners, given that I've now posted not one, or two, but three sets of shots from the park. I really love it up there, and I think more of us Downtown need to go up and take in the sights.

Today's LA Times talks about how DWP wants to cap the Elysian Reservoir with a tarp in order to satisfy requirements that drinking water supplies not be stored in the open. Apparently plans to cap the body of water have been on the drawing board since 1988, though I have to admit this is the first I'd heard of them.

Eastsiders want the 15-acre Elysian facility converted into a playground and splash park, a proposal officials call a daunting and costly engineering challenge. Stone Canyon residents want to keep their reservoir open, or buried in tanks and landscaped with native shrubs and trees, a job that city officials predict would clog Mulholland Drive's shady winding lanes for years with lumbering trucks and construction equipment.

"We're hoping the Elysian issue will be resolved by the end of the year," said Sallie Neubauer, of the Coalition to Preserve Open Reservoirs, which was created in 1988 after the DWP announced plans to cap Elysian with an aluminum roof.

"Our mission is to see those 15 acres added to adjacent Elysian Park," she said. "It's the backyard of communities such as Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights, which are crying out for more parklands."

Somehow Downtown doesn't get cited as a neighboring community, but I think this is a fight we need to be involved in as well. Every time I go up into the park I marvel at how such a natural setting can be found just a few miles from the urbanity of Downtown LA. The ride around the reservoir and up to Point Grandview is an important part of that.

I don't personally care about creating a playground in the space where the water is now -- I'd much prefer to see it remain water -- but I think we can all agree that a tarp is no one's idea of a good use for open space.

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