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Update: Funding Secured For York Blvd. Park

Negotiations to purchase the land are now set to commence.

The empty lot located at the corner of York Boulevard and Avenue 50 is one step closer to becoming a public park, after the City of Los Angeles was last week awarded nearly $3 million in funding from the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Plans to convert the former location of Steve's Gas Station into a public park

"It's a shot in the arm for the York Vision process," Huizar said. "Should we realize this, it would really help create that pedestrian and business friendly corridor that we really want."

Huizar said that, in addition to the a pocket park planned on York Boulevard and a bike lane installed in 2010, the funding award was the latest in a series of "quick wins" he hoped would lead to larger improvements along the corridor. 

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, more than 400 requests seeking $1.3 billion were received in the most recent round of statewide park development and community revitalization applications. 

"We're extremely excited," said Rick Coca, press deputy for Councilman Huizar. "We thought this project had merit, but this was an extremely competitive process."

With the funding secured, Coca said that city is now hoping to enter negotiations to purchase the lot from the property's owner.

"The way it works is that you get the property owner to sign an agreement saying that they are willing to enter negotiations for the sale of the property. [Negotiations] will take a while," Coca said. "We're very grateful to the owner, who has already indicated that he is willing to enter negotiations."

State documents list Mark Gabay as the individual responsible for the property.

Huizar said he believed the $2.85 milion in state funds would be sufficient to pay for the entire project, include the purchase of the property and the eventual development.

"It's hard to say, but I predict that it will," he said. "We'll continue to work to find funds if there are more gaps we need to fill."

During a public planning meeting held in June, community members agreed that a playground should be placed in the southwest corner of the .25-acre lot.

Others suggestions, such as a public restrooms, fences and a dog park area received mixed reviews during previous planning sessions.

A gathering will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 9 a.m. at the site of the park to celebrate the award, Coca said. Refreshments will be served.

Environmental Issues Closed at Park

Among the issues that allowed the lot to stand empty for long were concerns over its previous use as a gas station.

A notice of closure issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency in February of 2011 states that, despite trace elements of gasoline remaining in the soil, the empty lot does not pose a threat to the public.

The report states that all four underground storage tanks at the former site of Steve's gas station were removed in 1999 and that 4,607 tons of soil were extracted from beneath the location of the pump islands in 2001. In 2009, another 103 tons of soil were removed from the site.

Though traces of the toxic compound methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) remains in the soil at 82 micograms-per-liter, those levels are only unsafe if consumed.

Jeremy April 18, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I'm thrilled as a " new resident" and new homeowner that a park will be walking distance from where we live. I'm thankful councilman huizar is trying to keep his promises concerning the "new York" vision plan. This is something the entire community should be proud of .
STARCHY April 20, 2012 at 02:34 AM
"grateful to the owner" ???? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA what a joke! Our tax dollars are going to bail him out- he cant sell or develop the site because of concerns that it is (still) toxic!!! this deal stinks to high heaven.
Jennifer April 20, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Not sure what's so funny when this is a place that will add value to the neighborhood. A pocket park is better than having this place as an empty lot. As long as the kids are not eating dirt we will be fine. Any human that eats dirts will be bound to get sick anyway.
Jason August 13, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Any update on this? It's been several months now.
special blackburn August 15, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I was just wondering about an update myself... ??
David Fonseca (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Hey Jason and special: The mayor's office released some information about the 50 parks program today, and the York/50 park is listed among the projects that are going to be pushed forward. I'm looking to get a followup story up ASAP.
The MOG August 23, 2012 at 10:26 PM
These are my concerns too. Build on a toxic site....you'll be find as long as you don't eat the dirt? That is absurd, and I do not trust such an assertion. The owner is unable to sell it on the open market because of the negative environmental ramifications. So, the solution is for the city to purchase it, and assume the responcibility for it's rehabilitation. I see potential for a lot of problems. I'm sure the project can be a success, but the approach should be slow and cautious. If there are health concerns, they won't pop up until many years, perhaps decades in the future. When a grown adult comes down with cancer, and his parents recall the trips to the once new pocket park on York & Fig. when he was a kid, and wonder "what if?"

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