On my way home from Boyle Heights, I often pass through the section of Lincoln Heights that is squeezed between the river and the 5 Fwy.
Which means that I’ve been able to watch the Ed P. Reyes River Greenway (formerly known as the Humboldt Greenway) take shape over the past several months.
Located between Aves. 18 and 19 at Humboldt St., the 1.15 acre site was once used for storage of Union Pacific Railroad equipment and supplies. According to the L.A. County Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure, the project “‘daylight[s]’ an existing waterway that has been buried, and run[s] it along the ground on a combined city right-of-way and city-owned parcels.”
The unearthing of the subterranean waterway has created a surprisingly robust mini-waterfall that channels the water through a basin populated with native plants and other landscaping features that will clean it of bacteria, oils, other pollutants, and even trash before sending it on to the river.
Park-goers can learn about this process from the placards posted near the waterfall that describe the plants and explain how the watershed works, stroll around and over the catchment basin, thanks to wide paths and pedestrian bridges, or sit on a bench and enjoy a lazy afternoon.
As I stood there yesterday, admiring the amount of park packed into such a small space, I was struck by how much transit I was surrounded by. Planes were making their final turn toward LAX high above downtown, across the river, Metrolink trains chugged to and from Union Station, the Gold Line cruised overhead, and cars busily crossed the Broadway bridge.
Yet, it was surprisingly peaceful. The rail noises were rhythmic and kind of soothing, and the bridge is too far for you to hear cars honking at each other.
Well played, L.A., I thought. Well played.
It makes me excited to see the final product at the 6-acre Albion Dairy Project site, another watershed project located about a mile down the road from the Humboldt park.
The site, adjacent to the Downey Recreation Center, was home to the Swiss Dairy Company until just a couple of years ago.
While some feel the funding for the development at this site may come at the cost of being able to acquire the G2 parcel of Taylor Yard — a 44-acre plot adjacent to the Rio de Los Angeles State Park (parcel G1) — the improvements to the area are more than welcome to local residents. Sandwiched between the river, railways, freeways, and industry, the kids of the area have only one green space in their immediate neighborhood: the Downey Recreation Center. But even those facilities are split up by N. Spring St., with no way for kids to easily move between the two halves. The pool and playground facilities are north of Spring and the dusty field sits on the south side. If you want to go from one to the other, it is unfortunately safest if you drive.
A new park that offers more recreational and educational opportunities to families, finally connects the two halves of the rec center (with a new path under the bridge at N. Spring), and makes the river a healthier environment will be a very happy addition to the area.
The Albion Project is still some ways away from completion; the dairy buildings were only recently demolished. But the Ed P. Reyes park appears to be about to open. A few weeks ago, workers on site said that the park would open in November. Yesterday, there was nary a worker in sight and construction appeared complete. A call to the Bureau of Sanitation, however, yielded nothing more than an encounter with some of the strangest hold music I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. So, no word on when the park will officially open to the public. But it looks like it should be very soon.