By Edwin Folven, 4/21/2011
Walking Path and Seating Comes to San Vicente
The green belt on medians along San Vicente Boulevard will be transformed into one of the city’s newest parks through a plan that was finalized on April 18 by the Office of City Councilmember Herb Wesson, 10th District, and three local neighborhood councils.
The plan calls for the medians between Fairfax Avenue and Pico Boulevard to be adorned with new trees, a walking path and seating areas. Trees and plaques at the intersections at Pico Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, identifying them as gateways, will also be installed.
Elizabeth Carlin, a deputy to Wesson, said creating new park space in densely populated urban neighborhoods is a challenge, and it is rare when an underutilized space like the medians is available. Carlin said the design process has taken approximately one year, and involved the L.A. Neighborhood Initiatives (LANI) program, and well as the Mid-City West, Olympic Park and Pico Community Councils.
“It is Councilman Wesson’s vision to create medians that invite people to the neighborhood and improve the quality of life for people who live there,” Carlin said. “The San Vicente medians are already a green belt, but so often, people drive through and don’t stop. We have a really good neighborhood. It’s like a situation where you want your front door to look nice, and that thoroughfare is our front door to CD 10.”
Carlin said funding for the project has been secured, including $150,000 from the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA). The Olympic Park Neighborhood Council has committed $30,000, while the Pico Neighborhood council is providing $20,000, and the Mid-City West Community Council is donating $4,700. The money from the neighborhood councils is part of the $45,000 each council receives annually for operating expenses and projects to improve their areas. Jeff Jacobberger, the chair of the Mid-City West Community Council, said the San Vicente Boulevard project will be a great addition for the community.
“The medians there are very wide in some areas, which lends itself to creating a walking path and some other things for people to use in a low-intensity recreation space,” Jacobberger said. “It really is a combination of things. We will plant a grove of trees at either end to create a visual identity for the place, and will create some seating areas for people to relax. It will bring some badly needed greenspace to a place that really doesn’t have any parks.”
Carlin said the design calls for the use of gabion boxes, which are wire mesh boxes filled with decorative stones that can be used to make walls, benches or other features.
“It looks like a box of stones, and the idea is to use them as seats,” Carlin said. “We want to create places that are comfortable for people, but not places where homeless people will camp. The decomposed granite pathway will allow people to walk around on the medians. There will also be rows of trees, including flowering trees, that will give it some color and give it more definition. We want the medians to be a place where people can take a walk or just relax.”
Norma Fernandez, a program manager for LANI, said a majority of the amenities will be located in the stretch of San Vicente Boulevard between Hauser and Pico Boulevards, where the median is widest.
“Those medians have been there a long time, and the community considers them a jewel,” Fernandez said. “This project will create a connectivity throughout the entire neighborhood.”
Peter Schulberg, president of the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council and a member of the San Vicente Project Advisory Board, added that his group provided the funding to extend the project from La Brea Avenue to Pico Boulevard.
“We really expect people to use it, whether they are walking or running on it. It is a pretty nice thing to have in the community,” Schulberg said. “There will be much more activity, and we wanted to formally have something that would signify our neighborhood. We are looking forward to this great addition.”
Fernandez said LANI will soon be seeking bids for construction, and work will likely begin this summer, with completion expected by the end of the year.