With less than two weeks to go before Echo Park Lake reopens to the public, the refilled lake and rebuilt park look pristine behind a chain link fence covered with a green screen. But some residents have expressed concern about safety in and around the park once that fence comes down and the lake reopens, attracting throngs of visitors.
Just as the residents of Echo Park are excited about the reopening of the lake on June 15, “so are the homeless and camper people,” said Senior Lead Officer Louis Ford at a recent meeting of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, which had asked for extra police patrols around the park. Ford’s comment was in reference to the large number of homeless who have lived in campers and other vehicles parked around the perimeter of the lake before it was closed to the public during construction.
Officer Ford said the Rampart Division was considering deploying two officers at the lake in the morning and two officers in the evening on overtime “cash detail” to bolster security and ensure 24-hour monitoring. But a lack of funds scuttled that plan.
“To be honest, we can’t man it,” said Ford.
City staff is responsible for cleaning up tagging and graffiti inside the park but no extra funds have been allocated for the upkeep of Echo Park Lake once it reopens above and beyond what it received before it closed, a Recreation and Parks Department official told The Eastsider earlier this year.
Recreation and Parks had little to say on the matter of park security. Spokesperson Andrea Epstein said the LAPD Security Services Division maintained the park and deferred all questions to the police. When asked if there had been communication with the city’s main law enforcement agency about the park’s security, Epstein said, “They’re aware its reopening.”
“If there’s a call inside the park, we’ll go there,” said LAPD spokesman Norma Eisenman .