By Edwin Folven, 10/11/2012
Apparel company donates $1 million to cause
Plans to turn the Los Angeles River into an urban oasis with kayaking, fishing and other recreational activities got a boost Tuesday as local and federal officials announced a $1 million donation to further a multi-year feasibility study.
The announcement was made at the edge of the L.A. River along a stretch known as the Glendale Narrows, an 11-mile section running from the 134 Freeway to Downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, joined Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, representatives of Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) and other supporters for the announcement.
“We have got to put parks in the places where people are, and what better place than along the Los Angeles River,” Villaraigosa said.
The $1 million donation came from Miss Me, an apparel company that is headquartered on Alameda Street, a mile from the L.A. River. Lilly Kim, a spokeswoman for Miss Me, said the company’s employees often eat lunch at parks along the river, and that a revitalized waterway would help transform the highly urban landscape.
“As we are interested in protecting the natural beauty of the Los Angeles River, we are pleased we can play a part in the restoration efforts by helping the Army Corps of Engineers complete their feasibility study,” Kim said. “We are very interested in protecting, restoring and preserving one of Los Angeles’ natural resources.”
The Army Corps of Engineers and the city’s Bureau of Engineering are currently completing a study that will identify locations for new recreational uses along the river, and places where the concrete that currently lines the channel can be removed while still offering flood control protection. There is no official completion date for the study, but officials hope it will be done within the next year. In the coming months, the Bureau of Engineering and the Army Corps of Engineers will be reporting to the city council’s Ad Hoc River Committee on potential recreational uses for the river. Along the Glendale Narrows stretch, where the river runs south along Griffith Park, bikeways and walking paths have already been installed, but officials hope to create more recreational amenities. A private company began offering kayak and canoe tours on a seven-mile stretch of the river in the San Fernando Valley in 2011, and similar tours may someday be offered along the Glendale Narrows.
Ron Ferris, a Glendale resident who walks his dog along the river nearly every day, said the it is the ideal place for more recreational facilities.
“It’s quiet, it’s away from the city,” Ferris said. “You have the wildlife and the water. It feels like I’m miles away from the city.”
LaBonge said the potential opportunities along the L.A. River are limitless, and also praised Miss Me for providing the donation.
“The Los Angeles River is the city’s beating heart,” LaBonge added. “This new infusion of funds cannot come at a better time.”