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L.A. River Park Remediation to Begin At Lincoln Heights Dairy Site

Plans to turn the Albion Dairy site, where local youth teams once practiced football, into a full-fledged riverfront park got off to a symbolic start during a demolition ceremony held last Friday.

Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes (CD-1) and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each drove diggers into the last standing wall of the old dairy buildings, which crashed down to cheers from the audience.

Last week, Councilman Ed Reyes, left, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa , right, celebrated the demolition of a dairy site in Lincoln Heights that could one day be turned into a riverfront park. (EGP Photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

Reyes, who spearheaded the project, marked the latest milestone, the purchase of the dairy site and the beginning of its remediation, saying Albion Park will not only “serve as a national model for natural stormwater treatment,” but also as “significant relief in a densely-populated, park-poor area” where it will “produce cleaner air to offset pollution from nearby freeways” and provide an outdoor environment that can address “diabetes and obesity in the area, especially among kids.”

A definite funding source has not yet been identified for the construction of the park itself, but a Reyes aide said they are competing for Prop K park funds.

The majority of the $17.4 million in Proposition O – Clean Water Bond funds went to the purchase the dairy site, with the remaining $3 million going toward its remediation. Until recently it was an active warehouse and distribution site for the Swiss Dairy Company operating at the end of a residential street.

Currently the site located at 1739 Albion Street is a concrete-paved lot containing brick debris from the old dairy buildings, and may stay this way for some time. It must first go through a clean-up process to remove toxic contaminants from the site, expected to be completed by Sept. 2012.

Stormwater management practices, which include diverting stormwater and pollutants away from the L.A. River, are expected to be in place by 2015.

The plans have the 6-acre dairy property in Lincoln Heights linking up with the Downey Recreation Center, one of the existing pocket parks available to residents of an industrial neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, to form a 10-acre park.

Plans include expansion of existing Downey Recreation Center. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Chou)

Plans for the project include natural landscaping and an irrigation system meant to work together with the city’s master plan to clean up the Los Angeles River, with features such as natural detention basins with simulated streams, bioswales with native plants and tree-lined berms, permeable pavement and permeable parking lot, and trash capture devices.

The proposed plans also show basketball courts, a skate park, picnic tables, a playground, fitness equipment, an amphitheatre, and chess tables. These park features have also not yet been funded and do not qualify for Prop O funds.