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Parks, Parks, Everywhere

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 18, 2010, at 12:34PM
Courtesy California Hospital Medical Center

Rendering of the Hope Street Family Center, a $15.7 million facility proposed for the corner of Venice and Hope at the south end of South Park.

Want more park space Downtown? Get ready to be in four places at once this Wednesday evening.

At least five projects Downtown are pursuing Prop 84 parks money, and a scramble to satisfy state requirements has led to a flurry of community planning workshops this month. Given the dire budgetary situations faced by both the city and state, the $184 million up for grabs may be many projects' only chance for substantial public funding.

The projects are all chasing after money made available through the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program of 2008, which will pump $368 million into park projects throughout California. That money is divided into two rounds, and applications for the first round are due on March 1.

With grants of up to $5 million available and no local match required, the money is highly prized. Community meetings and stakeholder input for park features are an important piece of the state's scoring for projects, so projects have been scrambling to involve the community since the late-2009 release of the requirements.

Because the money is to be given out based on how projects score and not on more subjective measures, the Downtown projects aren't competing against each other but against other projects statewide.

This first round may be Downtown's best chance to score funds. A major component of the scoring revolves around adding park and recreation space to low-income neighborhoods, using data from the 2000 Census. Those old and outdated numbers may make it hard to attract retailers to Downtown, but they should serve Downtown well here. The area around the Grand Avenue Linear Park, for instance, is shown as having a median household income of $22,830, with 32 percent of residents below the poverty line.

Grant awards will be announced by September, 2010.

Olympic & Grand Linear Park

CRA is leading the planning process for this project which would take two lanes of Grand Avenue between 9th and Olympic and turn them into a linear park. The final result would be approximately 20 feet on the east side of the street and an eight foot sidewalk extension on the west.

The only project without a meeting on Wednesday, the fourth of five meetings will take place tonight, January 18, at 6pm in the basement of the Public Works Building, 1149 S. Broadway.

9th & Hill Park

Residents in the Eastern Columbia building have led the charge to create a roughly 3/4 acre park out of a surface parking lot at 9th and Hill streets. The land, owned by the Kor Group, is listed for sale at $8 million, but Neighborhood Outreach committee chair Bill Cooper feels that an actual purchase price would be lower.

The project will be holding a community meeting on Wednesday, January 20, at 7pm in the Wurlitzer Building at 816 S. Broadway.

Little Tokyo Budokan Recreation Center / Park

Budokan of Los Angeles is the latest incarnation of efforts to bring a gym to Little Tokyo that first began in 1970. The project, to be built by the Little Tokyo Service Center, has an agreement with the City to build on a Los Angeles street site located directly behind the new LAPD Motorpool facility. The project cost is estimated at $16.3 million.

The five community meetings kick off on Wednesday, January 20 (6pm, JACCC 5th Floor Cultural Room, 244 S. San Pedro St.) and finish up on February 6.

Hope Street Family Center

California Hospital Medical Center is behind the proposed community center on the southeast corner of Venice and Hope. The project is proposed to have a basketball court, children’s play space, walking paths, dance/fitness rooms, yoga classes, childcare, and family support services. Total cost is $15.7 million.

The third of five community meetings will be held on Wednesday, January 20, with a 6:30pm session at Mercy Housing (1500 S. Grand Ave.). A full list of meetings and an online survey are available.

Ord & Yale Street Park

CRA is also leading the push on this one-acre site next to the Chinatown Library. Originally conceived as a walkway, the space is now up for park treatment given the available funds.

The fourth of five meetings will be held at 6pm on Wednesday, January 20, at Castelar Elementary School, 840 Yale Street.

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