Thursday, October 27, 2016

A tug of war over the Hazard Park Armory

In the shadow of the L.A. County USC Medical Center, the Hazard Park Armory sits worn out and forgotten in a corner of a 25-acre city park on the border of Boyle Heights and El Sereno. Today, a city council committee will review a proposed, 50-year agreement to lease the Armory and more than four acres of Hazard Park to a private non-profit, Legacy LA, at no cost. It’s an arrangement that could spread to other city parks.

While Legacy LA gets the site for free, the group plans to rehab the property and launch several programs to help keep kids out of gangs – something apparently the city cannot afford to do at the moment.

Sounds like a good trade. But a few neighborhood residents and park advocates have raised concerns. It’s still far from certain, for example, that Legacy LA, a relatively new but ambitious group, can raise the $3 million to $5 million needed to renovate the property, let alone more money to fund its programs. What’s more troublesome to those who have questioned the deal is the idea of letting a private non profit, which does not answer to the public, take control of a chunk of a public park for decades to come.

“There is no guarantee that Legacy L.A. will always have the best interest of the community in mind or reflect what the community wants,” resident Jose Aguilar told the EGP News last August.

If Legacy LA is successful at Hazard Park, the city could consider leasing out parkland at other locations. One of the objectives, as stated in the agreement between Legacy LA and the city, is to “create a replicable model to be used in other urban parks.”

Photo: Legacy LA

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