New Lincoln Heights park provides green space and cleans water, too

Lincoln Heights  — On Saturday officials held a grand opening ceremony for the $44-million Albion Riverside Park — the city’s newest greenspace.

The triangular six-acre site next to the L.A. River at Spring Street includes playing fields, walking trails, restrooms, playgrounds, parking and an outdoor fitness center. But the park will also do double-duty as a giant filter to clean storm drain water before it flows in the adjacent L.A. River.

In fact, the project with Prop. O, which raised bond money for water quality improvement projects.  A portion of the park sits on a large number of concrete cubes that serve as underground water storage and an infiltration/irrigation system. Above ground, bioswales, which are rock-line ditches, collect rain water to be filtered below.

The project, conceived nearly 15 years ago, proved more complicated and costly that expected. After an old dairy facility on the industrial site was demolished,  the soil was found to be much more toxic than previously believed. The environmental clean up cost $2 million more than budgeted and took 20 months to complete, said an L.A. Times story

The project now forms the neighborhood’s second largest park and recreation area after Lincoln Park. The new park sits next to the Downey Recreation Center and is linked to the Downey Recreation Center Pool through a passage under the recently widened and retrofitted North Spring Street Bridge.

Park benches are positioned to take in the view of the Downtown skyline, the arches of the North Spring Street bridge and passing trains. Signs provide information about the local environment and wildlife.

Photo by Michael Banner

While the park is promoted as “Reconnecting Lincoln Heights to the L.A. River,” that’s not exactly the case. A tall fence and a pair of freight train tracks block access to the concrete river channel.

On Saturday afternoon, a few hours after the dedication ceremony, only a few people wandered around the park and its artificial playing fields as the temperature hit 80 degrees.

Maybe with time, and more shade trees, the park will attract more visitors.

Carolina Diaz is a freelance writer who want to give the community a platform to voice its issues

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