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Park Plan on Landfill Site Has Athletic Fields, Trails

July 22, 1993|IRIS YOKOI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ELYSIAN PARK — Los Angeles sanitation and parks officials have unveiled plans to develop a 40-acre park with picnic areas, playgrounds and athletic fields on the site of the former Bishops Canyon landfill, above Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Police Academy.

Under a design suggested by Troller-Mayer Landscape Architects, the park would provide regulation-size soccer and baseball/softball fields, jogging trails, children's play equipment, and picnic and lawn areas surrounded by trees and shrubs.

Officials would like to begin development next year so the park could open in 1995. But the project, estimated to cost about $4 million, must win community and City Council approval.

Councilman Mike Hernandez proposes using $1 million to $2 million in city park money for the Bishops Canyon project. The city Bureau of Sanitation also has $800,000 to $1.6 million committed to improvements at the site, so "we've got a project that's three-fourths funded," Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, city officials will continue to take residents' suggestions for the park design, said Jeff Dobrowolski, Bureau of Sanitation project manager, adding that meetings will be scheduled to update them on the park's progress every three months.

In the first informational meeting attended by about 20 residents on July 14, they said they liked the idea of a community park but expressed fears about the influx of more traffic.

About 300 parking spaces would be available along Elysian Park Drive and Park Road, but Hernandez said he will also pursue an agreement with the Dodgers that would allow park users to leave their vehicles in a stadium parking lot and take a shuttle.

After decades of fighting large development projects, leery residents questioned whether the project would be realized.

"I think it's excellent in its intent, but . . . they've made promises (about recreational space) there over the years and promises haven't been kept," said Paul Richel, a 20-year Echo Park resident and a regular jogger in Elysian Park.

Said Alicia Brown, a 50-year Elysian Park resident: "We, around here, are seasoned for bad news. I would support it, but I certainly would watch it very carefully."

Between 1966 and 1969, the landfill was the collection point for 1.66 million tons of household and construction refuse. No infectious or hazardous waste or sewage is stored there, city officials said.

The Bureau of Sanitation sealed the landfill in November, 1969, with a 15-foot soil cover and drainage system, providing a bluff-top plateau in the eastern section of Elysian Park that offers sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin, including the San Gabriel Mountains.

The possibility of a park on the site was formally pursued in 1971, when the city Recreation and Parks master plan for Elysian Park included a long-range study of the idea. But decomposition of the trash and soil settlement has precluded any development until now, city officials said.

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