Echo Park Lake construction update includes everything from birds to bodies

Photo by Mary A. Allen

By Mary A. Allen

With the closure and clean up of Echo Park Lake now underway, community members are face to face with the reality of a two-year lake and park closure. On Wednesday evening, city and project officials hosted a town hall meeting at St. Paul’s Cathedral overlooking the lake to review and address issues ranging from concerns about wildlife to what happens if bodies are found after the lake is drained (Answer: “Authorities will be alerted immediately”).

Here is a run down of  last night’s meeting and news about the $65 million Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation Project:

Lake Drainage
Draining of the lake is scheduled to begin on August 10 and will be completed within 30 days. A Q & A period prompted a burning question: “When you dredge the lake can you assure us there will be no dead bodies found?”  The answer from Council District 13 Senior Advisor Mitch O’Farrell was:  “No, we are not 100% sure there are no dead bodies. If something tragic is discovered, authorities will be alerted immediately.”

The Echo Park Lake Boathouse is being renovated in conjunction with the lake rehabilitation. Ohaji Abdallah, Project Manager from the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, reviewed details specific to the separately funded boathouse renovation. According to Abdallah, the Spanish Colonial style boathouse  rehabilitation and structural renovation follows federal guidelines and Standards for Historic Preservation . “We are saving as much of the historic fabric of the building as possible.” he said.

Requests for proposals  are being solicited for concessionaires to operate a cafe and boat rentals. Special consideration is being taken to find an appropriate food vendor who can maximize the potential of the new commercial grade kitchen facility and who will provide quality, affordable fare.

Wildlife Concerns

Homeless Relocation
Councilman Garcetti’s office will coordinate with Los Angeles Homeless Services to address needs of the homeless population who have relocated to nearby alleyways since park closure.

Sidewalk & Construction Fence
The existing narrow sidewalk on Bellevue Avenue has been made more perilous by the project fence, residents said. In response, officials said they are looking for sidewalk repair funds. Viewing panels will be installed in the chain-link fence surrounding the project.

Photo by Mary A. Allen

Water Quality and Conservation
Proposition O Project Manager, Kendrick Okuda, from the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, reviewed and discussed lake improvements and some construction considerations:

  • Hydrodynamic separators will be installed to catch trash from run-off water before it enters the lake.
  • Porous material will be used on pathways to divert rainwater into the lake.
  • A bentonite (clay) lake bed liner will prevent seepage and water loss.

Odor & Environmental Concerns
Potential health hazards of contaminates from soil and dust from the lake bed once it is drained will be monitored and addressed by the citizen’s Oversight Committee and Odor Monitor Committee. Individuals interested in serving on either committee are encouraged to call the Prop O hotline at (213) 978-0317.

Prompted by community member Peter Lassen, project officials have agreed to post a timeline which would include projected dates for draining the lake, relocation of animal populations and replanting the lotus bed.

For more information on the Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation project or to get involved in the Oversight or Odor Monitor Committees, go to www.echoparklake.org or call (213) 978-0317.

Related post:

  • Questions, answers at town hall lake rehab. Patch


  1. Charlene Patterson

    My family and I went there on Tuesday to go for a walk after going to the Edendale Public Library but we saw that the park was gated up all around its borders so we postponed walking around Echo Park Lake. I am really excited that there will be renovations in the amount specified. This project will make Echo Park have a better presentation especially if the homeless are rehabilitated back to employment and independence. Glad the animals will be taken care of during the reconstruction. 🙂 I like that the lake is going to have a new bentonite clay bed liner. Totally cool. Looking forward to the new lake in 2 years! 🙂

  2. Great info, but how are they going to clean the water before it is drained? Are they just going to drain the contaminated water, and send it down to the ocean or is the water going to be sent to the water treatment plant first?

  3. Also appreciate the info. Interesting that they’re going to start draining the lake in August. I thought they were planning on waiting until next summer to actually drain it. Can’t wait for a cleaned up park.

  4. @ Louis. Yes, they had said earlier they would not start the draining until next Spring but apparently moved up that schedule.

  5. Great article! Very informative! So, does this mean there wont be the Lotus Festival this year?

    • @ From Alisa. Lotus Festival took place earlier this month. You can count out a Lotus Festival next year, however.

  6. I think it is fantastic that they are redoing the EP, it is a wonderful park that will be even better after a little TLC……I saw the fencing and I was hoping that it was not going to be made into condos. On another note….who asks “When you dredge the lake can you assure us there will be no dead bodies found?”….who could possible assure such a thing? can you assure us that there are no pineapples either?

  7. So, what is the explanation for the constantly changing date for when the lake will actually be drained? Originally it was about April, but someone intervened and got that delayed to right after the Lotus Festival, and I have to think to provide for a festival. Then in June, they said that was too late in the year before the rainy season so they would not do it until next spring. Residents got in an uproar about the delay.

    Now out of nowhere it is changed again to August. Why, isn’t the rainy season going to interfere, and so wouldn’t it be better to leave it with water in it rather than with dust blowing around in the air?

    Why did they say in June it would not happen now, but within weeks change their mind again? What happened, who intervened and did what? If they are not going to proceed this year after draining, then isn’t it smarter to leave the water in it until the rainy season is over? Who keeps intervening when they clearly don’t know what they are doing?

  8. I could not attend the town hall because of work but its good to hear that they are helping the homeless population who once called the lake home. I hope they find a good shelter that will improve their situation. We now have a homeless man living on an abadoned mattress directly outside our front door on park avenue. He seems harmless and we want to help him out but it is kind of scary to come home late and find a man sleeping in your front yard. we’d rather not have him there.

  9. They’re going to find weapons in the lake. If you find my Browning knife on the north side of the lake by the bridge, it fell out of my pocket when I reached down to get the big catfish that I caught, then released. It was brand new, and no one was hurt with it. It may look like someone used it and dumped it. I was going to wade in to get it, but I didn’t want to get an STD from the fish. That is why I release all the fish that I catch from EP.

  10. The Town hall meeting o propostion O/Echo PArk Lake was not set up right by Eric Garcetti office. One of the first thing I wanted to point out is that none of our state fish and game , fish and wild life had representatives pressent at the meeting to discuse the issues with our wild life. The only people there were a biologist a tree specialist who are employed by the contractor. The State Fish and Game , Fish and wild life should have been at all the meeting from the begining and not contractors biologist and tree speacialist. They can not speak on behalf of these state agancies. The second thing is why has the county health department not been involoved in this project from the begining. I was at the meeting and brought up this issue on the health of our community. I have been warning Everybody about the toxic dust that will be flying around in the air in our community were we have children, seniors, and many people with respirtory problems. Keep in mind Echo PArk has Lead on the bottom of the Lake mixed in the sediment that when it dry will turn in to dust. I have always told everybody don’t believe me do your research on lead and the effects it has on children, seniors, and people with respirtory problem.

    Call your local state fish and game, fish and wild life , county health department and ask for them to hold on this project. They should also send a representatives to all Propostion O meeting.

    Remember all of our health is at risk we are putting a 65 million dollar price tag on our lives is it worth it.

    I want to make one thing clear I am for the clean up. I would like to see it done another more safer way.

  11. Clean air is a health concern for everyone but then again we all live in Los Angeles which ranks around #2 in the list of worst air cities. We all have choices to live here or live in another city. If my own backyard is not safe then I have no right to judge another yard. I felt the members of the construction team were able to answer most of the questions and Mitch made note of those questions which did not have an answer. Regular community people who consider themselves activists and ask bizarre questions are also a part of Los Angeles/Echo Park. Instead of always criticizing I will support and do what I can as a resident of Echo Park in order to ensure this project is successful.

  12. I drove to LA from Oxnard today,9-16-2011, just to get a Tommy’s burger and to take a walk around Echo Park. I grew up in the Echo Park neighborhood in the 50’s&60’s.I was startiled to see the lake drained and the park fenced off. But in my years I have seen the lake drained and refurbished before. Echo Park is a permanet park in LA for all to enjoy. With out that park the Glendale Blvd. area would be a not so nice of a neighborhood. No place for for family fun, excersize or just relaxsation and tranquility. I live in beautifuf Oxnard California close to the ocean and still love to go to Echo Park ocationally for that tranquility that I remember so well

  13. I would like to know about ” Lotus plants” in the lake.
    They were so beautiful every year. But They disappeared.
    Are you planning re-plant Lotus again ?

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