The years-long effort to cap the Hollywood (101) Freeway with a 38-acre park is coming closer to fruition after the project’s lead agency, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, scheduled a scoping meeting for this weekend.
The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday in the quad at the STEM Academy at Helen Bernstein High School, 1309 Wilton Place.
“This brings us one big step closer toward achieving the long-held dream of building this much-needed park in the heart of Hollywood,” Friends of the Hollywood Central Park executive director Laurie Goldman said in a statement. “It is a major milestone that demonstrates just how far this plan has come over the past few years.”
In a press release, Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said he is “thrilled that a quality project like [the] Hollywood Central Park holds great promise” for his district.
“I encourage my constituents to take full advantage of this opportunity to participate in the public process and help shape the scope of the park’s environmental report,” he said.
The park has been under consideration since 2006. Officials are looking to build a freeway cap park over the 101 Freeway, from Santa Monica Boulevard to Bronson Avenue. It would vary in width from 200 to 400 feet.
The plan is to create a street-level urban park that would offer landscaped open space, multipurpose fields, pedestrian meadows, restaurants, an amphitheater, a community center, playgrounds, dog parks, community areas and small retail facilities, such as bike shops, markets and art galleries, among other things.
Members of Friends of the Hollywood Central Park believe the project will provide sorely-needed outdoor recreational space in one of the most dense and park-poor areas of Los Angeles. They also expect it to create 40,000 jobs over the course of 10 years.
Approximately 75 percent of the project would fall within the jurisdiction of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. Its president, Bill Zide, said the council is mulling the impacts of the project.
“We’re not for it or against it yet officially. We just need to understand it,” he said. “We approach it with an open mind, and we hope to contribute to the process and be as involved as possible. We invite all community and stakeholder input so that we can better understand it and better be a part of it.”
Zide said the council will try to find answers to a number of questions: How will the project affect the area? Who benefits and can that be as fair and equitable as possible? What is the overall effect on the district?
“We’re going to follow it as tightly as we can,” he said.
Zide said the park could be a “great boon” to the community, but it also raises serious issues. He voiced traffic concerns and said the council would also like to review the project’s funding model. However, the project should improve property values in the area surrounding the park, Zide said.
“For some people, it’s going to be a huge advantage,” he said. “But the disruption factor is significant.”
According to a press release, the project’s draft environmental impact report is expected to be completed by early next year. In 2012, Friends of the Hollywood Central Park received $1.2 million from the Aileen Getty Foundation, and that funding, along with $825,000 provided by the city, will be used to complete the report.
For information, visit www.laparks.org/environmental/environmental.htm.
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