“Reclaimed bus yard begins life as urban wetland
A nine-acre park at Avalon Boulevard and 54th Street offers walking paths, native plants and pools with bacteria that clean polluted storm water.
February 10, 2012
It took three years and more than $26 million to turn an old MTA bus yard in South Los Angeles into what it is today: a sprawling park and urban wetland that will store and clean millions of gallons of storm water — while also giving children a place to play.
The gates to the new park, built on nine acres at Avalon Boulevard and 54th Street, were opened to the public Thursday. Residents say it is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that is sorely in need of green space.
City officials say decades of lax zoning practices have left many of the area’s residential streets blighted with warehouses, mechanic shops and scrap yards. The new park replaces one of those industrial islands with a novel feat of urban landscape design.
Unlike most parks, which feature green lawns and picnic tables, this one is composed of walking paths, native plants and several kidney-shaped pools filled with storm water. Naturally occurring bacteria clean pollutants from the water, which eventually feeds into a storm drain.
John Kemmerer, associate director of the water division at the Environmental Protection Agency, said the park is a model of how cities should treat polluted runoff.
Most of the project was paid for by Proposition O — a 2004 bond measure that set aside money for water quality and other projects. State and local grant money and funds from the EPA and the Metropolitan Transportation Authoritywere also used.
The new park is not the city’s first urban wetland. About a mile away, at Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park, a small artificial wetland was constructed in 2006. The pools there are now home to an array of animals and birds, like turtles and even an egret, said City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who backed the project and was behind the new one.
Although dragonflies have already been seen at the new park, at the moment, it looks a little spare. Many of the plants are still young, and brown because of winter. The water levels are low because of the recent lack of rain. ‘But in a few years,’ Perry said, ‘it will look like it’s been here forever.’”
Via: LA Times
Photo: Los Angeles wetlands park, built on the site of a bus yard. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / February 9, 2012)