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Building a park over 134 Freeway? Glendale supports proposal

March 27, 2013|By Brittany Levine
  • Freeway park proposal in Glendale
Freeway park proposal in Glendale (TCN )

A multibillion-dollar proposal for a 28-acre park covering parts of the 134 Freeway in Glendale won resounding support from the City Council on Tuesday.

The concept, known as Space 134, could stretch across parts of the freeway from Central to Glendale avenues and include transit stops, neighborhood park areas, trails, exercise equipment, an electrical car charging station and other amenities.

“It’s certainly worth pursuing without question,” Mayor Frank Quintero said. “I’m happy we’ve taken it to this level and hopefully we can continue it.”

Although the size and the cost of the park may seem daunting, Melanie Smith — a partner at Meléndrez, the urban design firm that created the proposal — said the “freeway cap” could be done in manageable phases.

“What do they say about eating an elephant? You do it in many small bites,” she said.

The mega-project is aimed at bringing open space to park-deficient south Glendale, which lags behind northern and eastern parts of the city that have large open spaces.

The initial park plan was paid for by the Southern California Assn. of Government’s “Compass Blueprint Grant Program,” which promotes walkable communities along existing and planned transit stations.

Alan Loomis, Glendale’s principal urban designer, said the next step is to apply for state and federal grant funding to do more studies, including engineering and economic analyses.

Smith proposed three phases for the park at the meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

The first phase, known as the “green loop,” could create five acres of open space over one to five years that mostly circles the freeway, including decks over the thoroughfare from Brand to Central avenues and Howard to Geneva streets.

Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Hollywood have all imagined similar projects. Several Glendale council members pointed to La Cañada Flintridge’s Memorial Park, which is about 1 1/2 acres and caps a portion of the 210 Freeway, to show that at least a small freeway park is attainable.

There are larger examples across the country. A 5.2-acre deck park in Dallas features yoga classes, a piano player once a week and food trucks.

The cost estimate for a proposed five-acre cap proposed in Santa Monica has been pegged at $17.4 million per acre, according to Smith.

The final phase of Space 134 could take 20 or more years. “Big ideas,” such as a convention and events center, transit facilities, active sports facilities and a potential reconfiguration of existing retail centers — are all part of the initial plan.

Smith added that the park’s amenities could “put Glendale on the map” while also providing recreation space for residents.

At 73, Councilman Dave Weaver said he didn’t expect Space 134 to be built in his lifetime because of the costs and multiple government agencies that would be involved in a project involving a freeway. But Quintero, 67, was more optimistic.

“I think this is going to happen in my lifetime,” he said.

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