Eyes on the Street: Avalon/Gage Pocket Park Continues to Take Shape

The pocket park at Avalon and Gage takes shape. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The pocket park at Avalon and Gage takes shape. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

As much as I genuinely adore South L.A., I have to admit it isn’t always the sparkliest of places.

Years of neglect by the city, a lack of investment in infrastructure, the seemingly haphazard zoning (or lack of enforcement of codes) that allows for toxic enterprises to set up shop in residential areas, and rampant dumping mean that even the most beautiful of older buildings and streets can seem somewhat drab and run down.

So, it was fun to see such a bright pop of color (above) appear at a traffic island at Avalon and Gage recently.

The space is soon to be a pocket park, courtesy of parks-oriented non-profit the Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT). It will feature playground equipment, fitness equipment, seating and tables, pedestrian lighting, and new trees and plants.

They broke ground on the park in May of this year and planned to complete construction this year, although it appears as though it may not be finished before early 2015.

The plans for the new parklet at Avalon and Gage. Courtesy of the Neighborhood Land Trust.
The plans for the new parklet at Avalon and Gage. Courtesy of the Neighborhood Land Trust.

It’s a welcome change, agreed a woman in Spanish, as we peered in through the fence, assessing the new installations. There are not enough parks in this area — not enough places for kids to play, not enough green space.

And it is clearly an improvement over the last iteration of the island, which offered little shade and was made all the sadder by the stump of a tree that once served as the centerpiece of the space and empty planter boxes encircling it (below).

The previous configuration of the island at Avalon and Gage. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA
The previous configuration of the island at Avalon and Gage. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

The location is less-than-ideal, sitting alongside a very fast-moving and often busy Gage Avenue. And when a man pushing his baby in a stroller along the too-narrow sidewalk tried to scoot past me, the woman I was speaking with, and an inopportunely placed light pole (below), I was incredibly surprised that he managed to do so without any of us falling off the curb into traffic.

The sidewalk along a very busy Gage is far too narrow, especially if you're trying to navigate that stretch with children. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The sidewalk along a very busy Gage is far too narrow, especially if you’re trying to navigate that stretch with children. (Click to enlarge) Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

But it is indeed a welcome change and I look forward to its grand opening.

  • User_1

    Opppssss………. I thought this story was on a park I very briefly saw riding the Blue Line. This was between the 103 Street station and the Willowbrook station. I hope this wasn’t a mirage. :-(

  • Joe Linton

    On “seemingly haphazard” or unenforced zoning: I think you’re giving planning a break it doesn’t deserve. You make it sound kind of neutral or accidental. Planning was really effective at cramming into South L.A. uses that richer whiter neighborhoods didn’t want. This was very deliberate. Planning’s history has been about keeping people of color on the other side of the track. Planning has also crammed in car-centric uses at the expense of all other modes. Not haphazardly – but deliberately.

  • sahra

    I’m not giving it a break…”seemingly” indicating it is not necessarily as haphazard as it appears. Many of the stories I write tend to describe the way that planning/infrastructure/data/etc. have generally been used against these communities quite effectively.

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