Long Beach identifies 11-acre parcel along LA River as top space for future park

Long Beach officials released a 47-page report this week analyzing what empty parcels of land in the city could be transformed into a public park.

The top piece of land identified as the best location for a park was an 11-acre property located north of the 405 Freeway along the Los Angeles River that’s under Los Angeles County jurisdiction. The parcel of land is located in Councilman Al Austin’s 8th District.

“The report indicates the county has halted any other plans for this property in order to discuss with the city the potential of open space,” Johnathan Kraus, Austin’s chief of staff, said.

On top of interest from the county to convert this open space into a park, the location was hailed by Long Beach officials as the top spot because it was unused, undeveloped and did not have any previous financial burdens.

Officials estimated it would cost $27.5 million to redevelop the site. They also projected a cost of $179,300 to annually maintain the land and about $80,300 to cover operational costs of a potential park.

The site sits close to the LA River and is accessible via the river’s miles-long bike path along and away from the city.

The location also sits on the western side of a proposed storage facility and RV parking lot, which has been a hot-button issue within neighborhood groups since the beginning of the year. Property management company InSite Property Group has been in talks with the city after purchasing land next to the county’s property to create a personal storage facility.

Residents in opposition to the project formed a coalition called RiverPark and have pushed back against the project and demanded the space be converted into a park instead.

Austin called on city staff in February to look into the feasibility of acquiring other parcels of land that were not in escrow or owned by a private company.

The two-month-long analysis pinpointed 122 parcels of land with great opportunity to develop a park, which in total equals 403.42 acres of open space.

The 112 sites were filtered down to nine sites based on efficiency to transform them into a park and if they were up for lease or sale.

The list was further filtered down to the one site located along the LA River.

The next step for Long Beach officials is to bring an item to the City Council for direction on how to proceed following the report’s findings. It was not immediately clear when that would take place. Kraus said the city will continue its talks with the county to reach an agreement and to seek federal or state funding to pay for the entire process of converting the land into a park.

If talks between the county and the city are successful, city planners would need funding to begin a community planning process for this site, as no park plan currently exists.

An estimated funding amount of $100,000 would be needed for this process and it is likely to take eight to 10 months to gather input from the public.

This would be followed by the creation of a technical park design and securing clearance through the state’s environmental quality act for the park development project. An estimated funding amount of $300,000 to $500,000 would be needed for this process, according to the report.

The whole process from land acquisition to construction would take roughly two years, according to the report.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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