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Arts District Park Delayed by Tainted Soil and Sordid Nineteenth Century Trash

The Arts District's first official park (dog park not included) was supposed to be wrapping up construction this summer, but progress has completely stalled on the site. The Downtown News reports that work to transform the parcel at Hewitt and Fifth, next to Urth Caffe, will be delayed for about six months because workers and archeologists at the site have found traces of lead, copper, and other potentially dangerous metals in the soil, plus a trove of artifacts from the 1800s, like women's stockings, rollerskates, marbles, and "glass bottles of gonorrhea medicine."

Because of the trace metals found in the soil, the Department of Water and Power, which is in charge of remediation, is now going to have to remove the top three feet of dirt on the site. Construction of the park will start up again after that.

Archeologists are also working on the parcel to carefully remove all the old, historical objects—not a quick or easy task. They say that historical records indicate that the area was home to single-family houses in the 1880s and so they think their findings might be old "trash pits," which are exactly what they sound like. The found objects will eventually stay long-term at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

A rep for Councilmember Jose Huizar, whose district includes the AD, says that the park is now expected to open in the spring of 2016. It's supposed to have a children's playground, a mural wall, a lawn, and shade structures.