Walking path in the works for the top of Silver Lake dam

The South Dam of the Silver Lake Reservoir

SILVER LAKE — The dam at the south end of Silver Lake Reservoir is said to offer striking views of the surrounding neighborhood, hillsides and, of course, the reservoir.  But few people have ever enjoyed that vista because the dam has long been closed to the public.  However,  that could be changing soon after officials announced plans to create a walking path at the top of the structure even as some residents have expressed concern.

On Saturday, May 13,  Council District 13  will host a walking tour of what’s known as the South Dam, which is located  next to the Silver Lake Recreation Center, and open house to present renderings  of “proposed plans for pedestrian improvements and greater accessibility.”

The original version of what’s called the South Dam was built in 1907 by William Mulholland, who was responsible for many of the city’s early dams and aqueducts.   For most residents, the South Dam, which was rebuilt in the mid 1970s, doesn’t look like a dam at all. It appears like a tall, grassy hill that looms over the Silver Lake Recreation Center and Silver Lake Dog Park.  When the reservoir is filled, the dam holds back and prevents about 750 million of gallons  from pouring down a canyon and through the homes, shops and cafes that line Silver Lake Boulevard.

The L.A. Department of Water and Power is in the process of refilling the Silver Lake Reservoir after it was drained to build a new pipeline.  When they announced the refill, LADWP officials also said that a path on top of the dam could be open as soon as this December.

The opening of the dam to the public and the reopening of a temporary path near the adjacent Ivanhoe Reservoir has raised some concerns, however.

The crowd who showed up a recent neighborhood meeting appeared  “evenly divided between those who support more access to the reservoir complex and those concerned about safety issues and wildlife protection,” according to a posting on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council website. “By the end of the meeting there was nearly unanimous agreement that there had been a lack of transparency about the proposals and that many community members–and the SLNC– were not informed or involved in planning.”

But plans to open the South Dam to the public are welcomed by those who want to create more opportunities for public space and recreation  ow that the reservoir no longer serve to store potable water.

“We believe that access, beauty and conservation are complementary values, and that increasing community access to the public [resource] of the Silver Lake Reservoir complex is a huge benefit for the community,” said an email message from Silver Lake Forward, one of the community groups focused on the reservoir.  “And who doesn’t want to check out the view from the South Dam?”

Saturday’s walking tour and open house will be held from 10 am to 2 pm.

The top of the dam is currently off limits to the public

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