A portion of the Los Angeles River is poised to become a lot more welcoming to humans and animals alike.
A feasibility report released Friday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outlines four different concepts for the future of this sprawling urban river. (The full report can be read below.) The overhaul focuses on an 11-mile stretch that extends from Griffith Park to downtown L.A., and aims to revitalize not only the river but the neighborhoods surrounding it.
In 2007, the City of Los Angles created a long-term "master plan" for the river that includes the creation of parks, trails, recreational areas and other "green" amenities. The report released Friday outlines the details of how these changes could take place, what they would cost and how they may impact surrounding communities.
According to the report, the usability and quality of the river has deteriorated over the last 150 years because of the urban development around it. New plans include modifying a portion of the waterway to install a freshwater marsh and facilitate the growth of more vegetation.
The four main options detailed in the report were selected from about 30 initial possibilities. They range in budget and scope, with varying impacts on the local economy. The costs would be paid for with local and federal funds; the precise formula has not been finalized.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified "Alternative 13" as their "Tentatively Selected Plan." According to the report, this option would restore 588 acres of habitat and create four miles of new trails, three new restrooms and five wildlife viewing areas.
But Friends of the Los Angeles River – a non-profit deeply involved with the redevelopment plans – prefers "Alternative 20". This option costs about $1 billion dollars (more than twice as much as the corps choice) and includes a much wider scope of improvements.
Alejandro Ortiz, chairman of the board of directors of Friends of the Los Angeles River, said the extra money is worth it.
“It's such an enormous potential and it is so needed, that we feel that it has to be done right the first time,” Ortiz said.
One of the biggest differences between the plans is that the option preferred by the Friends of the Los Angeles River includes an overhaul of Piggyback Yard, an old rail yard in the Lincoln Heights area.
Ortiz called L.A. "park poor," especially in downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding area, where the population has grown at a rapid rate. The need for green space in this area is increasingly apparent. Not only do parks and nature make the city more beautiful, but they directly contribute to its economic viability by making it attractive to prospective residents and investors, the chairman said.
"We consider this an absolutely critical investment at this point," Ortiz said.
The public is encouraged to review the report and share their feedback with the corps. The public comment period begins next Friday (September 20) and is open for 45 days.
To find out more about how to share your comments on the proposed plans, visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.