Frank Vuoso and his young crew of workers have spent the past few days building what resembles a backyard deck with planters. But in this case, the redwood deck is not a home improvement project; it’s a “parklet” being constructed between parking spaces and a crosswalk on York Boulevard in Highland Park. The 2o-foot long by six-foot wide parklet, or street porch, on York near Avenue 50 is part of a demonstration project and partnership between the group Living Streets and city officials to create more pedestrian-friendly public gathering spaces. While building a deck and some planters in a backyard is a relatively easy matter, building one on a city street is more complicated, requiring a lengthy review process by city agencies, residents and business owners and finally a vote by the full City Council, which approved the pilot program sponsored by Highland Park councilman Jose Huizar. Building the parklet, in contrast, is relatively straightforward.
Frank Vuoso, a supervisor for the L.A. Conservation Corps, said parts of the wood and concrete York Boulevard parklet had been built in advance, including some of the serpentine-shaped benches and wood forms used to build the concrete planters that will double as seat backs. The entire parklet platform rests on concrete piers and is bolted into the curb (not the street) and can be easily removed, Vuoso said.
The city allocated more than $10,000 to build the York Boulevard parklet. In addition, another parklet is being constructed on Huntington Drive in El Sereno and a third in downtown.
On Thursday afternoon, Vuoso was directing 10 youths with the Conservation Corps’ Youth Build Team, which provides training in the construction trades, as they poured concrete into the form of one of the planters. This morning, tile and mosaics were applied to the concrete planters as a decorative touch. The mosaics includes images and references to the neighborhood, including scenes from the film “Reservoir Dogs,” which was filmed in Highland Park, said Cathi Milligan, owner of the nearby Glass Studio.
Will the parklet be ready in time for Saturday afternoon’s grand opening? “I hope so,” he said.
Frank Vuoso supervises L.A. Conservation Corps workers as they prepare wooden mold for planter.
Wooden form for concrete planter.
* This post has been updated with new photos