City delays draining of Echo Park Lake

Click to enlarge map.

Echo Park Lake will be closed this summer for the beginning of a $64 million clean up but a key element of the project – the draining and dredging of the lake – has been postponed until spring 2012.  The draining of the 13-acre lake  followed by the excavation of 50,000 cubic feet of soil from the lake bottom was scheduled to have begun this July after the Lotus Festival. But officials with the city’s Public Works department determined that the construction schedule would have left the project vulnerable to delays caused by the winter rains, said spokeswoman Olga Morales. The lake bed needs to be dry in order for workers to spread lime to help control odors from the exposed dirt and muck, she said.”We need it to be completely dry,” Morales said.

While the draining and dredging of the Echo Park Lake will be delayed, the park surrounding the lake will still be fenced off and closed to the public after the Lotus Festival so work can begin on other parts of the clean-up project. That work might include constructing new walking paths, creating staging areas and “anything they can do ahead of time so they don’t fall behind schedule,” Morales said.

A contractor has yet to be selected but Morales said the clean up is scheduled to be completed by May 2013.

No comments

  1. The real reason for the delay is they need more time to organize the gun show. (The one they’re going to hold with all the discarded handguns they find at the bottom of the lake, that is.)

  2. Juggalou the Juggernaut

    So poor Maria is stuck in prison for an extra year? That is unacceptable.

  3. Off to a great start here. Why not just drain the lake and hope that weather co-operates since you’re closing the park anyway? And then they’re going to work on paths and grounds BEFORE bringing in all that machinery to haul the debris? Sounds wise. A cynical person might think this news means they just added another year to this project.

  4. This is a slow motion disaster in the making. Once they open up this can of worms it’ll be years till it reopens. Whatever the projected timeline is; double it. So sad with the city broke that they are “fixing” this park that doesn’t need “fixing” only because the fix is in. But is gets better! They are closing the park and don’t even have a contractor decided upon. Yikes. Look out folks this is gonna get messy expect a clusterf**k of epic proportions as its the only way our fair city knows.

  5. Yeah, it doesn’t make even a tiny bit of sense to close the park this summer to do the groundwork, then close it again next summer to drain the lake. I’m sure in some small way it will make things easier on the contractors, but at the expense of depriving the public of the park for nearly an extra full year, as well as creating an eyesore for everyone living nearby or driving past. Kind of classic case of bad organization, slow-footed bureaucracy, and hesitant problem-solving. (I wouldn’t be surprised if they have already signed contracts for some of the work with cancel penalties, having not considered the weather until the 11th hour… There has to be some financial incentive for the city to press ahead with the work piecemeal at this time… or are they really just that stupid and tone deaf that the feelings of the neighborhood haven’t occurred to them?).

    On a different topic but somehow related in my mind: Has anyone else noticed how the city f’ed up Baxter Street with the recent DWP pipelaying going on there? The surface running down to Echo Park Ave. is the historic pavement…some kind of brick-like cement that runs all the way to the top. They dug a trench down the center of Baxter, then filled it in with a thick stripe of extremely sloppy blacktop that now runs down the center of the street — ugly, dangerous, and already decrepit (immediately there are huge potholes forming in the blacktop). If a gang vandalized the neighborhood that way we’d be outraged… since it’s just the city, we yawn and accept it as the new reality.

    On the plus side, it forms a kind of accidental median in the middle of the street, which might encourage people not to drive over the blind hills on the wrong side of the road. (Who? Me? they say, looking around innocently…)

  6. @ET– EXACTLY! They did the same thing on Fargo (after leaving a massive trench in the middle of the street for 5 days or so causing one of our neighbors to slip on the rainy, muddy ditch runoff). They really need to think their projects through a little better.

  7. ET YES! Are they ever going to fill that trench?!?! WTF?! Its a total botched job! Who do I complain to?!

  8. If this lake was in brentwood you can bet the cleanup project would take about a week, tops. And if the city’s estimating two years, it will probably be three or four. Sucks for anyone planning to rent out or sell a house in the zipcode. At least you can look forward to years of beautiful tagging on the fences surrounding the giant empty mudpit.

  9. This reminds me of the renovation project on the Echo Park Deep pool. How many years did that take? I think that after going there almost every night for years, my daughter missed swimming during the entire time she was in high school due to the closure.

    I think the city needs better project managers. This would be completely unacceptable, where I work.

  10. And don’t get me started on the Baxter project. Advance notice would have been nice, for those of us who live in the neighborhood and use that route to get in and out. I imagine even more so for the residents of the street itself!

  11. Matty – I believe Eric Garcetti represents Echo Park on the city council. (Just google his name and it will take you to his site). That’s who I’d complain to. (And, I will if I can get time to compose my thoughts.)


  13. What? The project was slated to get underway in two months and a contractor hasn’t been selected? They need it to be dry so they’re going to start work in the spring when it rains instead of the summer when it doesn’t? It makes no sense.
    Does Echo Park have a Chamber of Commerce? Neighborhood Councils? It’s time to hold the councilman’s feet to the fire.

  14. I agree with other commenters, this makes no sense. They are worried that rain will cause delays… so they are going to delay the draining?

    Once this project really gets underway there will be no turning back. We will be stuck waiting for them to finish as they delay, delay, delay. It will be several years before we get the park back. It makes me wish they wouldn’t do this project at all, even if the lake does need a clean-up.

    If they aren’t going to drain the lake until next year, they should at least keep the park open until then. They don’t need to close it for 9 months just to build a few walking paths, that’s ridiculous. I don’t know if this is incompetence or corruption or both, but this is exactly the kind of thing that gives the LA city government a bad name.

  15. @Fat View: PRECISELY! I could not have said it better. Is anyone in charge listening to this? Hello? Is this thing on?

    So pointless to close the lake all that time and take away the one beautiful, edifying, unifying place in the neighborhood. Please do reconsider the extreme measures without a proactive plan in place. Please.

  16. “That work might include…” Yep, it really sounds like they have a plan and know what they’re doing.

    While the lake needs cleaning, the two years designated for this project already seems like an awful long time to be without the crown jewel of this neighborhood, as well one of the town’s most iconic vistas. It sounds almost apocryphal that the city doesn’t yet have a contractor for work which was scheduled to start in a couple of weeks, and this decision now to close the park for the better part of year –not for draining and cleaning the lake, but for work of a rather ambiguous nature (perhaps the extensive tree-chopping that is a part of this project but which always seems to be downplayed?)– does not exactly inspire confidence that this vital center of community (with each other, with nature, with local history) will reemerge any time soon.

    I voted for Proposition O, which provides the funding for this project. But the planning for this clean-up of Echo Park Lake has been questionable from the start.

    For instance, from the way it appears on the project map, the lake is going to be effectively reduced to about half its size, with the planned wetlands (in addition to the rehabilitated lotus bed) filling the remainder. While wetlands may be an efficient way to clean the water, and can be an important habitat for wildlife, the proportion of wetland to lake that is planned just seems a bit drastic. It also may not prove to be so clean in an urban environment with all the trash it generates. Ice cream wrappers and empty cigarette packs that get thrown into the lake can either sink or be skimmed. But who’s going to retrieve those things when they wind up caught in the reeds of all that marshland?

    One suggestion, if it hasn’t been made already: when the Lady of the Lake is moved to the tip of the peninsula (which is one laudable element of this project), construct a base for her so that rose bushes with lots of thorns can grow round, while allowing visibility of the bas relief images that surround the current pedestal to be retained. Maybe it’ll prevent having to spend thousands of dollars to keep replacing her broken fingers.

  17. @Parkster – Guns and bodies.

  18. The mention of Garcetti is right. HE is to be blamed here, along with the city departments involved. This is a VERY MAJOR project in his district, and to have allowed them to not even select a contractor as of the end of May is unconscionable. He clearly is paying no attention to his district. That a contractor should have been selected at the absolute latest six months ago.

    Any contractor selected would take at least several months to get things lined up and be ready to start. So,this delay has nothing to do with rain but with the fact that they dropped the ball and failed to pick a contractor. And Garcetti sat on the side and let it happen, paying no attention to his district. And this guy wants to bee mayor!? Of course, how could you expect Garcetti to pay any attention — he is always too busy traveling out of town hobnobbing around the country for his own political advancement.

  19. I’m really worried about this. The lake is so loved and used by the neighborhood – every night hundreds of people are out there socializing and excersising. Where is everyone gonna go when the lake is closed?

    It seems absolutely ridiculous to close the lake at the end of the summer and not start work till the spring. I really think that idea needs to be rethought immediately. Who is the group responsible for overseeing this project?

  20. PLEASE call Garcetti’s district office at 323-957-4500 and complain, complain, complain.. I’ve done so and will continue to ask for a meeting on this botched project that hasn’t even started. If you’re a renter, homeowner or property owner-this WILL effect you.

  21. @jessica: Garcetti is the “group” responsible for overseeing this! That is what we elect him for, to watch out for his district! He is VERY, VERY well paid for that. As usual, he has been negligent.

  22. What a disaster. I encourage everyone to e-mail Eric Garcetti directly at: councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org

    His website with other contact info is here: http://www.ci.la.ca.us/council/cd13/c13cu1.htm

  23. I am very distrubed about this untimely, unorganized and unacceptable project and how it is being MISHANDLED! I just called Eric Garcetti’s office and voiced my displeasure; and, I requested that a meeting be arranged for the public to be apprised of what is really going on. I was informed that Mitchell O’Farrell is the ‘special project coordinator’ for Mr. Garcetti (who was not in to take my call). We Echo Park residents need to call or write in and demand qualified answers! While the project will ultimately be a positive for the park the negatives of disorganized planning are outweighing the good already.

    I am a real estate agent (licensed 35 yrs) and have both lived and represented many clients in the community. The central part of Echo Park – the lake – has always been the community’s premier attraction; in fact, many years ago I coined the phrase THE CROWN JEWEL OF ECHO PARK for a photographic brochure when representing LAGO VISTA – the Allyn E. Morris c. 1973 Modernist architectureal condo complex that overlooks the lake from the cliff above Glendale Blvd. The majestic vistas of the lake (and city and mountains and communty) have always been one of the focal points of that location, and while I do not oppose this massive project to expand on the lake and park’s attraction I do fear that it’s natural beauty may be compromised if those involved blunder the project. I also am convinced that this piecemeal approach will be delayed longer than the projected two years and that is simply unacceptable to myself and the residents of the entire community…..jut that one address up on the cliff will affect 44 residents …already those planning to sell in the immediate future are being adversely affected, as will be the entire community – not just the residents who reside around the lake . This is very bad news for all of us I have already voiced my concerns to Mr. Garcetti’s office and now I encourage all Echo Park residents concerned to call Mitchell O’Farrell at 323: 957-4500 and request a community meeting be scheduled to demand answers.

  24. The problem is that Garcetti doesn’t much care to be on top of neighborhood issues. He has his mind up in the clouds and with a view of greater glory to be had in higher office. This project is of enormous impact on the entire neighborhood – and Garcetti has paid little to no attention. Thus, a contractor has not even been hired — how could they possibly start the project this summer if they haven’t yet even chosen a contractor!? How could Garcetti sit by and let this happen, not even noitce?

    In fact, this project will dramatically change the park. For one thing, many or most of the trees are going to be taken out! (The work can be done without taking out the trees!) And secondly, they are devoting about 2/3 of the lake area to “wetlands,” meaning no more lake view — or such things as fishing along much of the lake — but more the view of what will come to look like a weed view.

  25. Is anyone interested in organizing a community petition to protest what is going on? I am still worried about the wildlife — everyone mentions impact on people and Maria but there are turtles there that have nowhere to go, and other birds whose lives will be disrupted — not just Maria. And to fence it off while not doing anything is just outrageous.
    I’ve written Garcetti – no response.

  26. Echo Park Resident

    Get ready Echo Park for when they dry out the lake. Propostion O was base on all the contaminate that sit on the bottom of the lake. Like lead,mercury,and all those cancer causing contaminates. I spoke at public comment warning them about the toxic dust that this project would create in the Echo Park community and It has fallen on deaf ears. Please read the lastest statement above Morales said herself ” The lake bed needs to be dry in order for workers to spread lime to help control odors from the exposed dirt and muck, she said.”We need it to be completely dry,” Morales said.” They make no meantion of the dust. If you have ever lived near or pass by a construction site you already know how much dust it kicks up now mix in all the toxic contaminate that will go airborn. If you have any respertory problems your in for many years of more problems.

    just thought I would let you know. don’t believe me do your reseach you might not like what you see.

    Good Luck fellow residents

  27. I grew up in Echo Park and was disgusted what i saw today. Why close the park now if the construction will take more than a year ?????? I agree with many of the previous comments and agree that if this was Brentwood we would not be going through this! If I lived in the neighborhood as many of you do I would be outraged at the lack of organization that this “project” is taking. Don’t be surprised if the money set aside for this project somehow “disappears!” We always get the short end of the stick! I will be joining the rest of you and will complain.

  28. Ride, Ride, Ride….Echo Park is being taken on a ride.

    Last time the lake was drained for a cleaning back in 1984 the project cost less than $1 million dollars.

    If you do the math you can clearly see why the missteps and delays have already begun.

    Because even though overall costs are higher today than 18 years ago, its no easy task to force this project to cost 67 times more than last time.

    What we have here is a 5-6 million dollar project, absolute tops at 9 million dollars. That leaves a whopping 55 million dollars that they need to make up something to do so that it can be billed and paid out.

    Maybe that is also related to the delay in naming a contractor.

    The kickback scheme on this project is unprecedented – not even the most experienced corruption related project managers in this region has ever worked on a 15/85.

    Thats 15% genuine work billed/ 85% made-up work billed.

    Any contractor wanting an RFP for Echo Park Lake Clean-Up must first attend a 60 hour special seminar led by two of the top Halliburton project managers with years of experience subcontracting out of Kuwait for the Baghdad U.S. Embassy project.

    Why do you think Halliburton was selected as the government’s prime contractor for Iraq Reconstruction?
    Anyone with an M.B.A./P.E. should be able to supervise a standard construction cost plus graft and corruption project.

    But in the Iraq case, and the Echo Park Lake Clean-up Project case – only a most rare and gifted person has the required skills.

    What NASA was to the Apollo Project in finding a way for us to land on the moon within 10 years, so is L.A. City’s Echo Park Lake clean-up project under mandate to find a way to send 65 million dollars of taxpayers bond money out the back door and up to the moon within 2 years.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *