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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

LA to spend $3 million on MacArthur Park renovation, but how long will it last?

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MacArthur Park, located at Alvarado Street and Wilshire Boulevard, is set to undergo a significant green space renovation.

On July 9, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez of Council District 1, and Department of Recreation and Parks officials held a press conference to announce a $3 million renovation of the park, starting next month.

The project, titled “Reconnecting MacArthur Park,” aims to transform MacArthur Park into a large, pedestrian-oriented park. A key aspect of the plan is closing Wilshire Boulevard, which currently divides the park, to create a larger, unified plaza. This closure will make it the first pedestrianized street in Los Angeles. Additionally, the city will invest $2 million to build a shelter and provide services to address homelessness and drug problems in the area.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass (center) listens to a Department of Recreation and Parks official at a press conference at MacArthur Park. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

Public input from neighborhoods near the park will be gathered starting next month, and a traffic assessment will be conducted to evaluate the impact of closing Wilshire Boulevard to cars.

“Reconnecting MacArthur Park is not just about closing roads; it’s about giving this neighborhood the opportunities that open up when we prioritize the needs of people over cars,” said Councilmember Hernandez, whose district includes MacArthur Park. “It will allow this community that needs investment to dream bigger and better.”

According to the councilmember’s office, $2.5 million of the $3 million in funding for the project will come from the federal Department of Transportation’s pilot program, Reconnecting Communities. The remaining funds will be provided by a community grant from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

“We look forward to working closely with Councilmember Hernandez to ensure that this park is healthy, clean, and accessible to all residents of Los Angeles,” said Mayor Bass.

Currently, MacArthur Park sees more than 22,000 people daily due to the Metro station at 7th and Alvarado streets. The neighborhood faces significant security challenges, with firefighters responding to an average of 20 calls daily, primarily due to the homeless population and increasing incidents of violence and drug overdoses.

MacArthur Park, originally established as Westlake Park in the late 1800s, was split in two in 1934 when Wilshire Boulevard was constructed through its center. The park was last renovated in 2021 under former Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who spent $1.5 million on landscaping, benches, and grass repairs. Cedillo also relocated homeless individuals living in the park to a shelter, but the park soon saw a return of the homeless population.

With another $3 million renovation planned, there is hope that this effort will bring lasting improvements to MacArthur Park and its surrounding community.

BY NICOLE CHANG, JOONHO CHOI, HOONSIK WOO
[chang.nicole@koreadaily.com, choi.joonho1@koreadaily.com]