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Is it time to open the Rowena Reservoir to the public?

Rowena Reservoir in Los Feliz

LOS FELIZ — Matthew Fleischer of the L.A. Times Opinion section becomes the most recent person to ask why the lush and landscaped grounds of the Rowena Reservoir remain off limits to the public despite a lack of nearby park space.

The six-acre site surrounded by a tall green metal fence contains an artificial lagoon, waterfalls and swaying palm trees at the northwest corner of Rowena and Hyperion avenues, a short walk from the Trader Joe’s, Gelsons and thousands of residents.   The park-like grounds were built by the L.A. Department of Water and Power atop of a 10-million gallon water storage tank (aka the Rowena Reservoir) more than 20 years ago as a water-quality improvement project.

Why can’t the public stroll around the grounds?  Officials have long said that high-voltage electrical and other equipment related to the reservoir tank poses a hazard to those who wander nearby. Also, as one official told the Times, the  “DWP isn’t in the parks business.”  However, the same agency official says “we are open to opportunities to use our properties in different ways.”

But not everyone may welcome turing this fenced off property into a public park.  Efforts to open up the Silver Lake Reservoirs property to the public have and continue to meet with opposition from many neighbors.

Will that green fence around the Rowena Reservoir ever come down or will the public just have to enjoy the view from afar?

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21 comments

  1. I don’t understand anyone who wouldn’t want to make a park available to the public. if it really is for NIMBY-ish reasons, wouldn’t the greediness of wanting to see you property values increase as you neighborhood beautifies offset that. Come on Silverlake – lets be a community.

  2. Oh no Eastsider, you’ve implied that we should make something that serves the public in any way?? Get ready, the NIMBYs are coming. Oh god, I can hear them now!!

  3. This area in Los Feliz looks beautiful from outside. I would be concerned about upkeep and funding. If the DWP (which I believe has a lot of financial resources) would be keeping up the park, then I would want to open it. If the city is in charge, then I would be afraid of it becoming a dirty ugly park in the near future.

  4. The actual reason why it was closed off was the people living on the very affluent street getting that view. They are the ones who had enough pull to get all the money spent that brought about that beauty, and they didn’t want a bunch of peons there destroying their serenity. Make the public pay for it, but don’t let the public use or otherwise even enjoy it in any way, just me, me, me.

    So yes, that should be opened as a park for all.

    However, I find it incredibly myopic for this to even make it into being an issue. While the wealthier area got this beautifully landscaped view, the Elysion Reservoir, got the shaft! DWP refused to do any landscaping at all in undergrounding the Elysian Reservoir — which is not merely park-like, it is in the middle of the park! Instead, for Elysian Park, which is not a park that caters to the wealthy with all the money influence of Los Feliz, the DWP shot down everything but the cheapest, ugliest, industrial aluminum roof to blight the park. The reservoir there isn’t up a hill unseen but from a few houses on a single street, like Rowena, it is down the hill, seen from all views in that area of the park! An ugly, industrial, aluminum roof view!

    That happened at Elysian after then Councilman Eric Garcetti had one of his typical immature, mine-mine sissy-fits that the DWP, in the face of the Council slashing its budget, chose one time to NOT give the equivalent of a stock dividend that year, their funds did not provide for it in the face of a slashed budget. Garcetti, in his usual immature me-me way, went bullistic, shouting all kinds of slanderous things to villainize DWP, basically declaring war. Eventually, DWP was pressured hard enough to hand over money that year even in the face of having to cut services and programs.

    So, when about six months later the final decision about the plan for Elysian Reservoir came up, DWP took the attitude that they are not in the park business, if some other department or entity wants to pay for nice landscaping that they had been ready to pay for, that is fine with them, but they were only going to pay the cost of a cheap industrial aluminum roof — oh, and yes, that park was a block from Garcetti’s house (although the reservoir was on the other side of the park), so the perfect place to strike back at Garcetti.

    And so, Elysian suffers a big, unbelievably ugly industrial aluminum roof blighting the central area of the park — IN a park, a heavily used park, not something that simply COULD BE a park. Not a single affluent or rich person stood up for Elysian, only Sallie Neubauer, on behalf of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park, fought for it. She fought for that literally for more than 20 years, had successfully gotten landscaping all lined up and agreed to by DWP, only the final vote awaited — and then came Garcetti.

    So, while Rowena should be opened to the public, why now is money to spend on little Rowena more important than much needier and a bigger, unconscionable blighted Elysian — priorities, please, priorities.

  5. I’ve long ago learned not to hold my breath when it comes to proposals that offer better livability for all residents, not just the privileged few.

  6. It’s not a park. It’s a reservoir. How is that hard to grasp?

  7. You’ve got Hollenbeck Park, Echo Park and Lincoln Park to run around.

  8. Reservoirs can be fairly easily converted into successful parks — consider Echo Park. However, converting the “it’s just gonna git tagged/it’s gonna become a homeless encampment/were am I gonna park my car?” crowd is almost impossible

    • I agree absolutely. There are many nicely kept parks in LA, even in our neighborhood, but so many people are afraid of ‘low-lifes’ that they won’t even give it a try.

  9. “why the lush and landscaped grounds of the Rowena Reservoir remain off limits to the public despite a lack of nearby park space”.

    Maybe because it is not a park and that it is a business property. Although it is a public business, it is not a park. Just because a place is part of a public department, doesn’t mean the public has unlimited access. Police department buildings are public buildings, but that doesn’t mean it is open to the public, especially in the secure areas.

    • Everyone knows that. You missed the point of the article and comments. WHY not open it to the public, it is a nice space, and a LOT of public money was spent to make it so. There are reasons not to open the back offices of the police stations to the public; those don’t apply to this.

  10. The story of Elysian Reservoir is a sad footnote to the entire effort to preserve open reservoirs. It was the community supporting it that started the campaign and a mediation process. Silver Lake was one of the beneficiaries of that, as it too was planned to have a cover on Ivanhoe Reservoir and an industrial-scale filtration plant on the site of what became the Silver Lake Meadow. Elysian Park has long had to suffer neglect at the whim of a city that still does not have an appreciation of public space and natural environments for enjoyment and beauty.

  11. I know there has been some talk of a keyed access park just like Gramercy Park in NYC with exclusive access only for those who own adjacent property but that doesn’t sit right with me. It isn’t in keeping with the more egalitarian ethos of Los Angeles in general and Silver Lake in particular. If it is going to be a park, and it should, it needs to be a PUBLIC park open to all.

    • These people always talking about New York City — and never know what they’re talking about. Gramercy Park is not locked to all but the adjacent residents. It is not locked at all (except maybe at very late hours of the overnight, I haven’t been there at 3 a.m.) never has been!

  12. I don’t live next to the Rowena Reservoir I do walk around it and enjoy its beauty without walking inside of it gates, I don’t have to invade the space to appreciate it.
    Why do people feel a need to have unlimited access to enjoy it.
    Would it be the same people who let their dogs pee and poop inside the planter boxes around the trees
    on West Silver Lake Dr. that a neighbor /voluntarily build on his own to help the trees survive.
    Just asking.

  13. I live 2 blocks from that reservoir and it makes me really sad that I can’t go inside and enjoy the beauty. I used to live near Bellevue Park, only 2 miles away in Silver Lake, and miss it terribly. (Now it’s too far to walk to, and I avoid driving as much as possible.) Bellevue Park is in good condition and it’s not trashed and there are no ‘low-lifes’ there. Echo Park Lake is beautiful and well kempt. I can’t believe all you people are in such fear that you would rather look at beauty through an impenetrable fence. Sitting or walking in the park could be the highlight of your day, every day.

  14. Bellevue Park was once a reservoir . When it stopped being one it was made into a park. I have lived near Rowena Reservoir for over 50 years and it should be a park. I just received notice from The DWP that the next construction at Rowena will take it offline and it will no longer be a reservoir. The fences must remain and the park opened carefully. Probably it should open at dawn and close at sundown.
    I went for a walk with the planners for the Silver lake Park who want to remove the fence and asked them about how they would handle the homeless invasion and was brushed off as it being another issue. My neighbors and I are most concerned about either Park becoming Mc Arthur Park. Go there take a look do you want that in your neighborhood!

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