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.