LA River Revitalization Progressing But Decades From Completion
The program began with speeches and presentations by city officials. Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes opened the conference with an introduction to the master plan. The ultimate goal is to reclaim the river as a major focus of LA. This includes restoring the river's ecosystem and ensuring maximum utilization of open space. The project covers 32 miles of the river's 50 total miles.
The revitalization will not only improve the recreational value of the river but also provide economic opportunities. Jerilyn Lopez Mendoza, of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, said the opportunities allotted by reclaiming the river has the potential to create a green industrial environment.
Adopted by the City Council in May 2007, the plan has made several advancements since.
The LA River Pilot Boating program, held last summer, brought people from all over the city to experience the river in a new way at the expense of $50, Mendoza said.
Project manager of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Dr. Carol Armstrong, highlighted several river projects currently underway. One project is the construction of multiple greenways along the river, which will allow visitors to bike on scenic routes. Another project is the construction of bridges that would connect communities such as the bridge between Glendale Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue.
Another sign of the plan's progress was increased funding.
Armstrong announced that the master plan has made it into the president's budget for 2013. President Barack Obama has agreed to assist the program with $100,000. The LA Department of Water and Power has also contributed $1 million and the U.S. Army Corps has donated $350,000.
The Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study has also progressed since its start in 2006.
Dr. Josephine Axt from the Chief Planning Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discussed advancements made on the study, including the completion of the habitat evaluation and mapping for the river, as well as an updated floodplain map.
The meeting demonstrated how vital the river is to LA communities. The relationship between people and the river greatly impacts the way neighboring communities connect with each other.
"This river unites us," Mendoza said. "It is our lifeblood just as water is, and has been for a long, long time. This river plays an important, essential and transformative role in how we see ourselves and our city and how we imagine it for future generations."
A fully revitalized LA river is decades away. The master plan is expected to take anywhere between 20 and 50 years to complete. People who reside along the river have expressed their concern and hopes for the future.
Sandra Caravella, an Atwater Village resident and member of the non-profit organization Friends of Atwater Village, was prepared for a slow process.
"I'm hoping that my grandson will get to enjoy a lot of the things being done," Caravella said. "But I hope that'll happen while I'm still alive."
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