Ed P. Reyes River Greenway On the Verge of Opening for Business

Trains, planes, and automobiles are all visible from the Ed P. Reyes River Greeway park. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog
Planes, trains, and automobiles are all visible from the Ed P. Reyes River Greenway park. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

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 view looking towards Ave. 19. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog
The view of the catchment basin, looking west towards Ave. 19. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

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.

View from the Ave. 19 entrance to the park. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog
View looking east from the Ave. 19 entrance to the park. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

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.

Albion Park final design. Source: http://www.albionparkproject.org/Albionpark/designs_files/Albion%20Final%20Community%20Design_1.jpg
Albion Park final design. Source: http://www.albionparkproject.org/Albionpark/designs_files/Albion%20Final%20Community%20Design_1.jpg

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.

The two halves of the Downey Rec Center sit astride Broadway. Google map screenshot.
The two halves of the Downey Rec Center sit astride N. Spring. The buildings to the left of the baseball field are the former dairy which has since been demolished. Google map screenshot.

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.

  • sahra

    I see your point, but there are currently bike lanes that run alongside it, take you right to it, and will eventually connect to the river and new bridge. And given how underutilized those streets tend to be by cars, they are quite safe. I think the size of the park means it makes sense that the park serve more as a destination (there are bike racks there) than a place you cut through. For families who want to stroll through there in the afternoon with little kids in tow, I think the presence of bikes cutting through could be a problem, especially if they were moving fast. If the space was large enough to support more pathways, a bike path would make sense. But in this case, it is just small enough that I’m not sure it does.

  • Taylor

    Just a quick correction: Downey Rec is divided by North Spring Street, not Broadway.

  • sahra

    You’re right–Broadway branches off to the north. Thanks for the correction.

  • Amy Weiss

    Wonderful article Sahra! Looking forward to exploring it with Jonathan and Jack soon.

  • Bryan
  • sahra

    Thanks for the link! I just passed through there an hour ago, checking to see if it was open yet. They are doing some seriously stinky sewer work at a lot adjacent to the parklet, and i wondered if perhaps that was linked to the watershed stuff and they were finishing that up before opening. I have to say, I might have to call BS on the “security issues” explanation for why the parklet remains closed… Anyone can waltz their way into the parklet area right now. I have done it. I’ve seen others do the same. If you want to steal equipment, the free-standing chainlink fence will be little deterrent. Thanks for passing it on, though!

  • Alex Brideau III

    Keeping the greenway closed sounds like a solution in search of a problem. As far as I’m aware, many LA park areas have no security. The fact that someone stole some equipment during the construction process does not mean the park needs security personnel. Open the facility to the public and you’ll have many more eyes on the park which helps to create a safe environment.

    Barring the above, could some civic-minded individuals (or a group) sign up for certain hours to curate/monitor the facility? That would at least allow the facility to open during the daytime.


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