A Pocket Park Begins to Take Shape in South L.A.
My, my, what have we here?
I pulled up at Avalon and Gage to survey the change happening at what I had always considered a terribly depressing island with great potential.
In case you’re not sure what that category of traffic island looks like, here’s the “before” shot:
The intersection is one that marks the boundary between the industrial and residential sections of Gage.
It’s a busy transit stop, with bus stops on both Avalon and Gage. And there had clearly been an attempt made to create pleasant environment by putting in nice seating areas featuring tables with checkerboard tops.
But the lack of shade, empty tree boxes, and removal of the tree at the center of the island (made worse by the fact that the stump was left behind, as if the tree had been decapitated), meant that people tended to eschew the seating areas in order to take refuge from the sun alongside telephone poles.
Thankfully, that’s all about to change.
The Neighborhood Land Trust — open space heroes known for working intensely with communities to convert blighted lots into pocket parks and gardens — are constructing what promises to be a lovely little haven for families.
The plans promise a space for kids with playground equipment, more trees and plants, fitness equipment, pedestrian lighting, a drinking fountain, and new tables and chairs.
They had originally hoped to enhance the space with a People St. plaza project, closing off the street adjacent to the north side of the island. But, as doing so would have cut off access to residents, they had to settle for improved pedestrian facilities that would make it easier for families to cross to the pocket park.
Groundbreaking took place in May (see photos here) and construction will continue throughout this year.
I, for one, can’t wait to see the final product.
If only they could also do something with the rest of the industrial section of Gage, which I also see as an ugly site with great potential (albeit harder to tap).
The dirt median seems ripe for transformation into something beyond parking.
True, the strip is quite narrow, but it might be ripe for a fitness course makeover, as an extension of the pocket park.
Or it could play host to benches and shaded seating, in a scaled down version of the gem of a park that popped up just north of Century on Vermont at the end of last year.
That’s probably very wishful (perhaps “delusional” is a better word) thinking on my part. But that’s what happens when you see the innovative conversion of a neglected space — you begin to think everything can be transformed.
Keep up with the Land Trust’s ground breakings and garden parties here.