Albion Dairy Park Preliminary Designs, Meeting this Thursday

January 25, 2010 § 5 Comments

Design A features a soccer field, native landscape, skate park and bioswale

The city has released two preliminary design options for the new park at the Albion Dairy site in Lincoln Heights. The designs will be discussed at a community meeting coming up this Thursday night January 28th at 6:30pm at Downey Recreation Center. Higher resolution pdfs of the design options are available at the project’s website.

Design Option B which features dog park, skate park, tennis courts, native landscape, and bioswale.

Analysis of and opinions on the designs follows. Come this Thursday to give your input or give input via a three-page online survey hosted by the city (link is on the bottom right.)

The first thing I noticed is that the designs don’t actually take advantage of the rail right-of-way that the city purchased with the property. See that little nick in the top right of both the designs? Well, the area outside the lines is city property, too, extending all the way to the North Broadway Bridge… but somehow it has either been excluded for some reason, or else the actual site footprint didn’t get communicated to the folks creating these plans. That doesn’t invalidate the designs, but it does mean that the designers were squeezing as many features as optimal into the wrong sized and shaped parcel. It’s maybe an additional half-acre of a 6.3-acre site. Note that the actual site has a panhandle – visible on the image posted earlier on creek freak, also still shown on the second page of the fact sheet on the city website.

But, on second thought, maybe it’s ok that that right-of-way wasn’t included, because it’s a good site for a bike path… which was discussed in the Albion meeting I attended, but didn’t make it onto either of these designs. With the panhandle, the site is long enough for a bike path about one-third of a mile long, paralleling the river. This isn’t a huge commuter bikeway, but it would be a good place for families and kids to bike. A third of a mile is good; it would be useful in and of itself, and it could be extended over time. There is additional connecting unused rail right-of-way upstream that could take it another quarter mile to the Gold Line where an abandoned rail spur (extending from Humboldt street) could connect to Avenue 18. There would be other opportunities to connect/extend as other river-adjacent parcels are redeveloped or as a large-scale river revitalization project that could reconfigure the channel. L.A. Creek Freak to the city of Los Angeles: please put a more-or-less linear two-way class I paved-concrete bike path along the western edge of the site!

(Note to L.A.’s bicyclists and other people who breathe air: take the survey and request a bike path – link is on bottom right of the page.)

At this point, I don’t have a strong preference between the two designs. There are lots of features crowded in… because there are lots of needs in these neighborhoods. A good number of varied features brings in plenty of park users, which is a great thing in my book.

In addition to various conventional and needed recreation areas, both options feature a manmade-creekbed-bioswale (similar to the Bimini Slough Ecology Park) that would cleanse stormwater run-off and would make a connection with the idea of the creeks and river… not to mention being a fun place for kids to explore, play, catch frogs, etc. The adjacent actual river there is all concrete, and difficult to  perceive as a natural feature.

If I were mayor KING in charge, I’d probably cut the parking in half. Option A shows 41 spaces, B shows 32 spaces – I’d say 15-20 spaces would be good. Encourage folks to access the park by transit (the park is less than a mile from two Metro Gold Line stations, and adjacent to plenty of buses on both Broadway and Main), by bike, or by walking from the adjacent neighborhoods. Folks who drive could park on the 60+ existing street parking spaces on Albion Street… which, because the adjacent uses are largely industrial, won’t be used at the same peak times as peak park usage. There’s also street parking nearby on Spring and Broadway.

I’d use that space formerly assigned to parking to create more unprogrammed green space – a field area that could be used for informal pick-up sports. I’d probably drop the tennis courts or the meadow and use that space also to enlarge the unprogrammed field area.

I am looking forward to seeing what emerges from the community design process… and looking forward to the new park along the river.

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