Published as part of an environmental storytelling partnership with the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) at the University of California, Los Angeles. The first storyline focuses on the past, present and possible futures of Taylor Yard, an abandoned and contaminated rail yard adjacent to the L.A. River. Find more stories about Taylor Yard here.
If you had a chance to build anything you wanted inside a 42-acre park in your neighborhood, what would you choose? A soccer field? A long bike path? Or maybe an amphitheater?
That was the question behind the first public meeting and workshop to explore preliminary design ideas for the Taylor Yard G2 River Park site. The property, bought by the city of Los Angeles at the beginning of 2017, poses a challenge to the ambitious plan to restore 11 miles of the L.A. River between Griffith Park and Downtown Los Angeles.
Led by the city’s Bureau of Engineering, the event held this January was the first in a series of meetings and tours scheduled to occur on the site over the next few years. In the first meeting, more than 300 members of the community got together for over three hours to discuss ideas and visions about the project. “I want a skate park for my grandsons,” said a woman in one corner of the room. “Okay, but I would also like to see a safe place for wildlife,” said a young man by her side.
According to project manager Katherine Doherty, the community’s visions are important during the concept development stage because the idea is to create an environment that benefits people living in the area. “The city wants to make sure that this site is something that the local residents need and want in their community,” Doherty said. The goal, she said, is to open the site to the public in about five years.
Located on the river's east bank in the Cypress Park neighborhood, the G2 parcel is the last remnant of the Union Pacific Railroad's former Taylor Yard. The railyard has been closed for two decades. But converting the industrial parcel into a vital public space, as the city intends to do, won’t be as easy as planting a few trees. Due to the site’s contamination from serving as a railroad facility, transforming the brownfield site into a park will require creativity, and substantial soil remediation. And the idea is to use the time required to decontaminate the site to create a project that also satisfies local resident's desires.
To achieve that, besides the public meetings that will be held every six months, the Bureau of Engineering has established a technical advisor stakeholder committee and a community leadership committee that will meet quarterly. Both committees are comprised of representatives of different organizations interested in the site.
In the next general public meeting, scheduled for July, the City intends to show participants three different alternatives for concepts based on the feedback that people gave during the first event. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Engineering is accepting requests to serve on their stakeholder committees. Information about the upcoming events will be posted at http://tayloryardg2.com/. Also, the department has launched a survey to invite the public to share what they would like to see and do at the new park. Participate in the survey here.