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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Echo Park is reunited with its lake

The cutting of a ceremonial red ribbon unleashes a crowd of visitors to newly reopened Echo Park Lake.

Nearly two years after being fenced off, dug up, drained and refilled, Echo Park Lake reopened this morning to a flood of park-deprived fans, politicians, media and one Chinese dragon.

The crowd flowed into the park after mayor elect and former Echo Park resident Eric Garcetti  cut a ceremonial red ribbon across an entrance to the park as Chinese drummers pounded away and church bells rang out. Within minutes, the park’s new pathways,  freshly planted lawns and landmark bridge were crowded with people exploring a landscape that was both new and familiar thanks to a multi million dollar clean up designed to improve water quality funded by Prop. O bonds. People posed with images of the Lady of the Lake Statue, fountains and, of course, the blossoming lotus in the background.

There were questions about some yellowed expanses of lawn, the accuracy of new informational signs and how park staff was going to maintain the new wetlands. But for the most part Echo Park Lake 2.0 got positive reviews.

“Today we celebrate the rebirth of a lake, of a park and a neighborhood,” said Garcetti, who described the clean up of the lake as the “greatest” project” he had worked on. “Echo Park Lake is back.”

The first batch of park visitors were fast to share their images on Twitter, Instagram. Here are some  of their images and impressions:

25 comments

  1. Only one complaint… Did it really need that useless parking lot?

    • About as much as it needs to have its broken sidewalks all around the perimeter of the lake. They use that Pking lot for the recreation & Parks people. I have seen them in the past use it, dont get me lieing I with you on that, more grass is better but the water cost…Geez I dont want to think of the gallons of water it takes to water that grass around the lake.

  2. Sure is beautiful now. Great job!

  3. I was there this morning, Already picking up trash others leave behind.

    Good citizens of ECHO PARK, please join me in picking up not only your trash but someone else’s. That goes for dog poop too! If you have an extra bag, go ahead and join me in keeping our Lake and surrounding neighborhood beautiful!

    Thank you!

  4. I was there for the second time yesterday about 8pm and picked up a few pieces of trash as I walked around, but I was thinking that for a crowd of that size (not quite Lotus Festival size, but close) it wasn’t too bad. All it takes is a few ill-bred folks to make a mess.

    Of greater concern to me are the people that think it’s OK to trample through the areas with plants that are still getting their roots established – a little consideration and common sense, please? Maybe some of these spots could benefit by having temporary fences.

    Hey, I just looked out the window and saw someone picking up after their dog! I think most people do actually. I like to think that things have come a long way – it wasn’t always the normal behavior.

  5. Beautiful restoration. The lotus plants are gorgeous. However, two design flaws are already producing predictable results: 1. Way too few trash cans = lazy litter. 2. Plants between the walking path and the edge of the lake = trampled shrubs. People are naturally inclined to walk to the edge of the lake. Those poor young plants didn’t stand a chance.

    • I said the same exact thing to the people who overlooked this project… where is the maintance budget for just this situation…there is none…so there now you see your 85 or 45 or 65 what ever millions of dollars going to good waste…in about a few years the lake will return to its prior demise.

      • I have hope that the old park and lake will never become as bad as it degraded to, circa 2011. There are new ‘stakeholders’ — and I really don’t like that word — in the central city, and from what I’ve seem they seem concerned with quality of life issues.

        Just seeing dog owners concientiously picking up dog doo is encouraging. Seeing and reading here of peeps picking up trash is also good. I have to believe the old lake is in better hands.

  6. Where are all the trash cans ?Not only that I noticed the water Spicket’s are made out of some cheap plastic, ones the kids could just easily kick them down .I mean that’s not too smart maybe they should’ve made them a little more sturdy. Oh my daughter even picked up a piece of trash and dropped it in the trashcan herself. And the white people were being really nice to us. So, I guess the commentary on the Eastsider is not the way the majority of the people feel Around here. Even the cops didn’t really bother. Good job Echo Park!

    • There are no sprinklers strong enough to withstand demise from someone who wants to break it intentionally. The plastic sprinkler is not the problem, it is the kid who is not being properly guided through life to know right from wrong.

      Maybe we should put razor wire around the sprinkler heads. Seems to be the only deterrent these animals understand.

  7. Also, I noticed there is about a good three or four foot drop at certain areas around the water. Lord forbid if a child falls in, I even think I would have a problem getting out myself!

    • I said the same exact thing… not what was on the plans before, if the lake had a bit more water I could see that not being and issue…

  8. It looked AMAZING! save for the fact that when i walked in , it looked like Coachella threw up and regurgitated its hipster crowd on to the park , MEGA GROSS !!!!!!!!!!
    Definitely NOT the same Echo Park .

    • I saw people of all ages, races, and lifestyles having fun, getting along, and enjoying a beautiful weekend in their new park.

      It’s a shame that some people’s hatred of those who are different from themselves can destroy their ability to relax and enjoy the pleasures of everyday life.

  9. Has any announcement been made about when they plan to take down the fence?

  10. #1 — All in all it’s a great job. My hat’s off to ‘money going to where it’s needed,’ not always the case as we all too well know.

    I was there at the opening on Saturday, drove by that night, stopped this morn to check out the situation — dozens of happy visitors, day and night. The night light is well-designed to light the park but not garishly. The effect is soft and gentle. Everyone I’ve spoken with is impressed, and happy.

    The park’s vibe is preserved, many vintage trees remain (many are gone too, but those gone seemed at the end of their cycle, and many weren’t water-wise) and the addition of the softer, permeable path is tremendous. It is a walker/jogger’s delight, and I’m not going snark. Like many Boomers my ankles need a level path.

    #1a — upkeep is key now, and was glad to hear Dream Center kids are going to chip in. At the opening Saturday I was about to pick up a piece of litter when young Echo Park mother reached down and retrieved it. I called out, “Thank you! I was about to do that.” She smiled at me, and placed the crushed pamphlet into her purse to hold till she reached a trash can. Very nice to see that sort of ownership soon after the mayor-elect opened the fence.

    ISSUES — The straight walls may hold water in and runoff out, but it is a clear and present safety issue.

    There have been several drownings in Echo Park Lake over the decades. You may view vintage photos of officials dragging the lake for bodies (see LAPD digital files). Some were kids, and I also recall in the early Sixties some wasted vatos tried to wade in on an underwater barrier on the northern end, slipped and couldn’t get back out.

    As a result concrete chunks were dumped at the shores to form an underwater ramp of sorts to allow one to clamber out. The chunks were removed during the cleanout — it was interesting to see them up close and dry — and obviously nothing has been replaced. Someone will eventually tumble in, young or old, sober or soused, and they may not be able to get out.
    I saw kids on Saturday tossing in pieces of bark (with parents too far away, hello responsible ones) and one kid was about four. He was right at the edge at the bridge, was heaving the bark as hard as he could and was in danger of going in head-first from the effort. I was on the bridge observing and was about to take a picture of the situation — now, before you jump down my throat, I was fully prepped to leap off said bridge and become the new lake’s first hero. I carry a waterproof Olympus, and wasn’t worried about the cam.

    The new walls around sections of the lake are also prime tagging targets, smooth, flat concrete surfaces like freeway overpasses — and why can’t we stop that? LAPD/Cal Trans/CHP, hello, anyone want to park and wait for tagging crews to appear, and it seems to be nightly, an easy bust — and they will eventually be tagged and painted over and so appreciate the bare walls now, people.

    New lawn is great, but yes, it will take a ton of water to keep it up. People were indeed trampling all over the new beds — when I saw them a few weeks back I thought to myself, oh well, you really can’t expect people not to trample through to get to the water’s edge.

    There is very little shade to be found throughout the park. The trees that were broad and leafy are mostly gone.

    The herbicide that was dumped in to kill the algae gave the lake an unbelievable alpine look: bright green-blue, like something in the Sierra. The kids wading at the dunk ramp @ the restored lotus bed was amazing for this old homie to see. And being able to peer into the depths with polarized shades maybe down to 5′, whoa this is pretty amazing, nice. The lake’s water, even in good years, was always something we feared.

    Now for fish — I handed out docs on Saturday as I’m going to start up a kid’s fishing club. Free to all, I have all gear needed, no money needed. It’s for fun and education, encourage outdoors education and awareness, learn to keep the park and the greater outdoors in shape, clean up before we fish, leave place cleaner when you leave, strict catch-and-release and how to handle fish with little harm.
    Local Vincent Montalvo is also a fishing advocate for the lake, and has worked with a program called Los Tiburones, a fishing program for kids. We may find a confluence of energies.
    In 1959 I fished Echo Park Lake with a cane pole and bobber. I knew every inch of her banks and underwater snags, from the old lily pads around the island, the lotus bed, to the sunken benches and trash cans that sheltered green sunfish. Dragging a lure past those always brought a strike. If you’ve never seen a green sunfish they are a darker, bass-like fish with electric blue stripes on their gill plates.
    Here’s the fish issue (with me) — current plans are for only trout in cool months, catfish in the warm, but neither are truly kids’ fish, they are more difficult and aren’t ‘cane pole species’ a kid can catch sitting on the bank. These two species will be stocked, or dumped in. The trout will be taken out in hours if not days. They are raised in ponds, fed on Purina trout pellets, have mealy, lousy flesh and if they did not carry the ‘rainbow trout’ moniker they’d be next to useless.

    The trout you eat in a restaurant or buy at Von’s on Montana and Alvarado are pen-raised not wild (it’s illegal everywhere to catch and sell wild trout), and only taste good when fried up with bacon fat or butter and garlic. I’m amused when peeps exclaim how delicious their trout is.

    If you support a kid’s fishing club, please let mayor-elect Garcetti know, and Brian Young, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, region 5, @ 562-342-7148.

    I hope we can get the classic panfish green sunfish, sunfish, bluegills and crappie re-introduced into the lake. Along with foodstuffs: scuds, crayfish, frogs and forage minnows like fatheads or shiners. And also important is re-add structure for bass, and spawning beds (they were removed with the renovation) to make the lake a self-sustaining fishery, like a real lake.

    Echo Park Lake was LA’s best urban fishery, far above Hollenbeck, Lincoln or MacArthur (yes, there was decent fishing at MacArthur, and I probably was fishing there when Jimmy Webb was sitting at the south-western end with the old guys playing checkers by the trees and penning his classic ‘MacArthur Park’) and drop by on a Saturday with your kid(s) and enjoy a free fishing session — sometime in the future I hope.

    Good job on Echo Park.

  11. Silver Lake resident

    I was there on Saturday for a few hours. Loved the variety of the crowds, loved grabbing snowcones from the local vendors, loved the glassy stretches.

    What I didn’t love? The five or six 20-something Latino dudes who were SWIMMING in the lake. Why there was no police out to monitor that situation is beyond me. Seems like a deadly accident (and expensive lawsuit) waiting to happen.

    DON’T SWIM IN THE LAKE. GO TO ECHO PARK POOL IF YOU WANT TO SWIM!

    • At risk of sounding flippant, dudes takin’ swim in ol’ EP lake is pretty funny to me. But of course, it’s tre dangeroso.

      Re the clarity of the lake’s water — it will never be this good as it is right now. We’re in LA 4th driest year (on record) so there’s no runoff to speak of, and there are few water fowl to foul the water.

  12. Check out the highlights of the Grand Re-Opening: http://youtu.be/DU4EtV9ct5k

  13. Went on Monday and it looks great. Awesome diverse crowd of people hanging out. The only bummer was the group of hipsters with instruments playing crappy music loudly and smoking cigarettes. The park rules say no smoking cause we don’t want your dirty butts littering the lake and hurting the wildlife.

  14. 10:50 a.m., 6/18/13, the fence is approx. halfway removed, yay.

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