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$20M makeover would bring boathouse, other improvements to MacArthur Park

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But is it a pie in the sky plan?

MacArthur Park, which sits on either side of Wilshire, just west of Alvarado in Westlake, is in line for a big makeover, but there will be some bumps on the road to a total transformation.

MacArthur Park was once the jewel of Los Angeles park, but even in its earliest days, it was a place that attracted trouble, including suicides. "For a time, whenever anyone went missing in Los Angeles, the first impulse was to check the lake," wrote Los Angeles magazine last October. Now, the park is littered with trash and drug deals. It's also a popular homeless hangout.

MacArthur Park has the potential to serve the surrounding community—one of the city’s most dense and economically disadvantaged—in myriad ways, but it needs improvements first.

The Los Angeles Times reports that key upgrades are planned by Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents the area, and who’s already seeking community input on how the park should look in the future.

Cedillo’s plan is in the "early stages," says the Times, but what’s known is that it’s expected to cost about $20 million over the coming years. The plan would:

  • Add an outdoor classroom and picnic area
  • Update restrooms
  • Build a new boathouse (that worked out well for Echo Park Lake)
  • Add work-out equipment on the side of the park nearest the lake,
  • Improve the park’s entrances (the one at Seventh and Alvarado was upgraded last year)

It will also incorporate input from residents. The Times says staffers in Cedillo's office have already started meeting with residents, who have asked for gardens, Zumba, fishing derbies, school programs, and piano lessons.

At least one big hurdle for Cedillo's plan is money. The city has just a fraction, or $1.6 million, earmarked for renovations at the park. The rest is going to have to come from public and private funders, and it will probably have to be tracked down for each individual project, says the Times.

Another hurdle is and will likely be keeping the place free of trash and illegal activities. "It’s the kind of public space you have to stay on top of every day. If you let go just a little bit, you lose control very quickly," Jose Gardea, who has written a book on the park, told the Times.

MacArthur Park

2230 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057