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City Hall lawn faces three different fates; sustainability remains a concern

By Hayley Fox
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 01:35PM
Hayley Fox

While the City Hall lawn is fenced off and in preparation for the redesign, the Department of Recreation and Parks is working on maintenance issues, such as trimming some of the overgrown trees.

The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks presented the public with three options for the future of the City Hall lawn, at an overflowing Downtown Neighborhood Council meeting last night.

The options aren't final but they may be good starting points for gauging community response to plans for the lawn's walkways, foliage and iconic preservation.

All three choices include a similar plan for the north side of the park, that includes a low water nature garden with drought resistant plants. Where the choices drastically differ is in the reconstruction of the south side of the park, the landmark grassy knoll that has served as a public forum and gathering space. Farmers markets, concerts, people on their lunch break and most recently, the Occupy LA protesters, have all utilized this space.

Option One uses the most turf (aka grass) and is the closest to restoring the lawn to its original appearance. The project would cost approximately $350,000 and use an additional $90,000 per year in maintenance fees.

Option Two seems to be the favorite so far, as it preserves large areas of grass but also integrates planting areas and decomposed granite walkways. Decomposed granite is a crushed stone material that's often used for driveways as well as garden walkways and national park paths. This option costs more than double option one, and maintenance fees shoot up to about $140,000 per year.

Option Three is the most radical and represents the most dramatic departure from the lawn as we used to know it. This uses the least amount of grass, with most of it located only along the area's perimeters. This plan favors drought-resistant plants and expansive areas of the granite material.

Option Three would cost a little over a million dollars to execute and about $180,000 to maintain each year.

At Tuesday's neighborhood meeting, representatives from the Surfrider Foundation and various gardening organizations expressed their environmental concerns for the new lawn, as well as their desire to have City Hall serve as an example for other areas, as being a model of a progressive 21st century city.

The three options will also have to be reviewed by the Arts, Parks and Neighborhoods Committee as well as the Cultural Heritage Commission later this month. With a few other red tape stops and approvals, the favored option will then be presented to the City Council, most likely in late February.

As of now, the Department of Recreation and Parks is aiming to break ground in early March.

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