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State Buys Rail Land for Riverfront Park

July 30, 2002|GEORGE RAMOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

State park officials took over ownership Monday of 10 acres of railroad land along the Los Angeles River for $8.2 million, clearing another hurdle in the campaign to create a riverfront state park in northeast Los Angeles.

The announcement cheered officials and others who have argued for several years that the site, dubbed Taylor Yard, was unsuitable for commercial use, especially since Cypress Park and other northeast communities need more open space and parks.

"This is big for us," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), who has supported an urban park along the river. "This is another step in creating a state park that will meet the needs of underserved communities like Cypress Park and Elysian Valley."

In December, the state acquired 30 acres from Union Pacific Railroad for $22.5 million in Proposition 12 funds. The latest acquisition, also paid for by the 2000 state park bond measure, makes the 40 acres the state now owns a complete parcel.

Officials at the state Department of Parks and Recreation, prompted by area residents and activists, are considering another Union Pacific property, a 62-acre site along the north side of the Los Angeles River.

Talks about that parcel have yet to begin in earnest, but Goldberg, in whose district the park would be located, said she thinks the state can persuade the railroad to sell that parcel too.

"Just because these communities are underserved [with park space], we aren't going to settle for just 40 acres," she said. "We want the whole ball of wax."

State parks officials used Monday's closing of escrow on the 10 acres to underscore Gov. Gray Davis' commitment to creating urban park space. A new park at Taylor Yard is part of Davis' plan to acquire 6,230 acres across California for new state parks, they say.

"The residents there have made it very clear that they need parkland and this is part of the governor's urban park commitment," said Roy Stearns, a state parks spokesman.

December's announcement of the first Taylor Yard purchase was coupled with a $36-million purchase of 32 acres near Chinatown, known as the Cornfield, for parkland and open space.

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