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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Patience might finally pay off in more parkland *

About 18 acres of Elysian Heights hillside that sweeps from Landa Street down to Riverside Drive is moving closer to becoming public parkland. A community meeting tonight will update residents who have been working for about 20 years in transforming the site into an extension of nearby Elysian Park. After fighting off a proposal to build a warehouse complex on the site, members of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park lead the effort secure bond money to purchase the land and eventually build a park. That was back in the 1990s. Now, the city will review its most recent plans for the property.

The first phase calls for sports fields, game courts and picnic areas near the bottom at Riverside Drive and a scenic overlook at the top near Landa Street and Echo Park Avenue. The 18 acre parcel does not share a boundary with Elysian Park but some residents say it will help make Elysian Park more accessible to Elysian Valley and other nearby neighborhoods.

* Update: Julie Wong, spokeswoman for Councilman Eric Garcetti, provided a few more details about the 18 acres. The first phase of the project will cost about $1.65 million. But the site must compete for state bond funds that are slowly flowing to the city. If the park lands near the top of a citywide priority list, work on the first phase could begin as soon as the first quarter of next year and take about 10 months to complete, Wong said. "Council President Garcetti has been vocal about wanting this project to be a priority," she said.

The new parkland has been considered an expansion of Elysian Park but it's not clear if the 18 acres will bear the same name. "The city has a naming process that involves community members," Wong said.

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