By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Rattlesnake Park, the first NET park, with a FoLAR-commissioned entrance gate -- after five decades of fencing that shouted "Keep Out" -- has a plaque inscribed with a Lewis MacAdams poem, a hawk sculpture by Andy Griffin, and a wall and fountain in snake form. And look for the big frogs -- artist anonymous -- on the levee.
The new 5.6-acre park at Marsh Streetwill feature a kids' discovery area on the south end, with the rest to be developed in three-plus years. It's brought to you by the Trust for Public Land, which helped the state acquire it; the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which will bring it to life; and the Proposition 13 funds you voted for. (ETA start 2001)
TPL and MRCA teamed up in 1995 to create Elysian Valley Gateway Park. A shady picnic area, it may not look revolutionary, but it was a critical beachhead. The project quelled long-voiced arguments for why a greenway could never happen: As it turned out, the neighborhood did take care of it, it did not attract gangs, and Public Works agreed to let us in. The park literally unlocked the gates to this stretch.
Stuff's at Good Stuff Park -- all good. Riverdale Mini-Park's got a bench and bike anchor. Steelhead Parkhas an amphitheater, yarrow meadow, Anza Trail poster, and Brett Goldstone's steelhead-theme fence and entrance gate, to honor the steelhead trout's eventual return. Osos Parkhas a sculpted drinking fountain and Michael Amescua's life-size sculptures of a deer family, grizzly bear and mountain lion. Zanja Madre Parkmarks the entrance to the Narrows -- the concrete resumes just south of it -- with a fountain, natural-history info on birds and trees, herons by sculptor Andy Griffin, and an entry sign in five languages for the L.A. River Greenway.
Ever ahead, North East Trees is building two miniparksin Taylor Yard -- to await the big park and the bikeway here. The one to the north will double as a bike staging area. (ETA south 2001, rest five to 10 years)
Taylor Yard will be a 60-plus-acre state park if all goes according to plan -- and 100-plus acres if the park's advocates win what has become the next defining battle (after the Cornfield; see Downtown) to ban new industrial development on riverside lands and build new parks in park-deprived areas. The first and largest of four big planned parks to hit the map since 2000, this Great Leap Forward for river restoration has three especially gargantuan assets: It's huge, with 2-plus miles of soft-bottom riverfront; it's ideally sited, just north of downtown; and it introduces State Parks resources and funding to the L.A. River.
Union Pacific, which is phasing out this railroad yard, sold big chunks of the brownfield's original 247 acres to developers, but last year Proposition 12 funds armed State Parks with a supersize $45 million to start negotiations on the 62 acres left. And in July, the Coalition for a State Park at Taylor Yard -- a united front of residents, churches, environmental and civil-rights groups -- won a major victory in its fight to rescue a 41-acre chunk, between the neighborhoods and the future park, from the Lennar Corporation's plans for industrial use: The Superior Court ruled that the city's approval of the project without a full environmental-impact report, which Lennar must now do, was illegal. The area's politicos -- state reps Richard Polanco and Jackie Goldberg, and city rep Eric Garcetti -- have urged Lennar to sell.
The Coalition wants to see a park with wetlands restoration and trails (and likely a detention basin) on the 62 acres, sports fields and a community center on the 41 acres, and housing and retail on a third, MTA-owned 24-acre chunk -- because Northeast L.A., while rich with industry and diesel fumes, is very poor in parks, affordable housing and basic community amenities. This site should become a landmark project that shows how to recycle once-industrial lands to create parks, reduce flooding, improve water quality and make neighborhoods more livable. (ETA five to 10 years)
Next stop on river tour: Downtown
WALK THE RIVER
It's all walkable here, on one side or the other. It's legal, too. And scenic. And you can walk down the slanted walls to the river itself. BUT DO NOT DO THIS IN RAINY WEATHER, WHEN FLASH FLOODS MAKE THE RIVER VERY, EXTREMELY, INORDINATELY DANGEROUS.
South of Glendale-
Riverside Drive (in north Griffith Park) to Fletcher Drive, south and west banks, hard by the 5 freeway: Use bike trail. It's noisy.
L.A. Riverwalk south to Fletcher, east bank: Entries at North Atwater Park (via equestrian trail on south end), Los Feliz Boulevard, Dover Street, Sunnynook Drive.
Fletcher to Barclay Street, west bank: Entries at the parks and many cross streets.
BIKE THE RIVER
The city has built the first segments of the L.A. River Bikeway, a lighted Class A path, on the north half of this stretch, and is finishing it now. The unfinished segments and the paved access road in the walkable sections are also bikeable, if a little rough.
Now: Riverside Drive (north end Griffith Park) to Fletcher Drive: Access at end points, off Zoo Drive just south of the 5/134 juncture, Los Feliz, Glendale Boulevard. (Bridge over Los Feliz, ETA 2002)
Soon: Fletcher to Barclay, west bank. (ETA start 2002) Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, east bank.
Later: The city will build a trail in Taylor Yard on the south end, and is seeking funds to extend it north to Fletcher. (ETA with Taylor Yard park)
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