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Full Cornfield Park Project Finally Moving Forward

A draft environmental impact report has been released for Chinatown's Los Angeles State Historic Park, giving hope that the park nicknamed the Cornfield might finally be finished someday soon. The DEIR breaks the news that landscape architects Hargreaves Associates will no longer be designing the park (the firm won a competition for the commission in 2006 and had also lined up Architect Michael Maltzan as part of its design team). The document does not include any of Hargreaves's designs. Landscape architect Mia Lehrer, who was a finalist for the project, tells Curbed that state-employed designers are now the design team of record for the site. Apparently, the state could not raise the funds necessary to keep Hargreaves and Associates on board (we heard back in 2010 that the state was planning to dial back plans). However, the project has already been designated for state Proposition 84 funds, which are enough to build out phase one of the project.

As for what's left of the California State Department of Parks and Recreation's plans for the site: "The proposed project would include various park improvements to the project site...: three event spaces; one-story Welcome Station and operations buildings; a 14-foot-tall elevated walkway including the Roundhouse Observation Deck, which would rise above exposed archaeological reveal space; hard surface walkways and/or plazas; jogging and interpretive trail loops, a Children's Interpretive Play Area/Exploration Zone and a 'Storytelling Circle' amphitheater; unstructured play, work-out, and group gathering areas; two 75-parking space surface lots; new pedestrian pathways, parking lot and security lighting; bioswales, constructed/demonstration wetlands, and habitat area; new trees, landscaping, and turf areas; fire access and services road(s); and new automated irrigation systems."

The Notice of Availability for the DEIR projects attendance figures exceeding 180,000 a year, and says that "Special events and concerts held at the project site may include concerts, fireworks displays, and the use of public address systems." Comments are due on the DEIR by March 14, 2012.

Last week KCET Departures provided a full historic survey of the 32 acres located roughly between North Broadway and North Spring Street, down the hill from Chavez Ravine. A park was first proposed for the site in 1930, when Frederick Law Olmsted's sons included it in their report "Parks, Playgrounds and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region." A proposed industrial development by Ed Roski (he of the Majestic Realty plans for an NFL stadium in Industry) was undone by federal intervention in 2000, but since then the park has been stuck in an interim status that has left only 13 developed acres for frolicking--and even that space does not permit typical park uses like organized sports.

The KCET article has info on all the twists and turns, and also details the many groups that have made the area a home and been pushed out by competing interests. (They call the the site "the veritable Ellis Island of Los Angeles.")
· LASHP Master Development Plan [California State Parks]
· L.A. State Historic Park: A Deserted Railroad Yard is Transformed Yet Unfinished [KCET]