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California City offers serious upgrades to nine parks

Tennis courts with shutters and vacant lots are turning into vibrant green spaces. And residents have a say in everything from design to amenities.

By July 2023, the dull, grassy, ​​underutilized plot on Cornbulm Avenue in Hawthorne, California will be the city’s newest and most vibrant community park. The Zera Davis Park Renovation Project is the latest in a master plan to update many of Hawthorne’s parks, narrow the park’s fairness gap and improve the quality of life of Hawthorne residents. The project is moving forward after receiving $ 3.4 million in funding from Clean California. Local grant program earlier this year.

“Hawthorne is a very poor community in the park,” he said. Los Angeles Neighborhood Trust, Park Equity and Advocacy Nonprofit. About 90,000 people live in it, and 60% of Hawthorne’s inhabitants are of color. These inhabitants have access to only 0.6 acres of parks per 1,000 inhabitants, well below the substandard Los Angeles County. Average 3.3 acres per 1,000 people. About 90% of the Hawthorne community is also classified as “disadvantageous” according to California’s sound community planning legislation. In other words, the burden of environmental issues such as air pollution can be disproportionately affected and mitigated. Through increased access to green spaces.

The park fairness gap experienced by Hawthorne residents reflects national issues. Data from the Trust for Public Land In the most populous 100 US cities, the majority of non-white communities have access to 44% less park area than the majority of white communities. Low-income areas have access to 42% less park area than high-income communities. In southwestern Los Angeles County, Hawthorne residents are familiar with these discrepancies.

According to Hawthorne’s recreation supervisor, Kwan Nabowi, the Zela Davis Project is the second phase of a master plan to renew nine city parks, and the team is responsible for the refurbishment project.

Hawthorne’s Bicentennial Park is already It was renovated in 2017 in partnership with a public land trust. Prior to the refurbishment, poorly maintained, unused tennis courts occupied most of the park’s space. It was gated, locked, and inaccessible, “explains Robin Mark, Program Director of the LA-based Trust for Public Land. Space for picnics and play.

The vision of Zera Davis Park is similar. After conducting an investigation, the city chose it for refurbishment. [Hawthorne’s] “The least serviced facility,” said Fon Norris, Mayor of the City of Hawthorne and Director of Community Services. The park is “in a very dense area with no green space,” says Norris. The existing space has no bathroom and is limited. Equipment such as an old Totlot and a picnic table.

Park renovations are effective and economical in cities like Hawthorne, where urban space is dense and there is a shortage of land for new parks. “Renovating the park is a great way to serve the existing community,” says Mark. The unit surrounding Bicentennial Park and Zera Davis Park has been refurbished by tens of thousands of people. Trust for Public Land estimates that approximately 20,000 people live within a 10-minute walk of the refurbished Bicentennial Park. Zera Davis is also near the two schools. After refurbishment, it will serve a large community of families with school-aged children.

For the Zela Davis project, Hawthorne has contacted the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and has been cooperating with the project since 2019. After that, the organization was responsible for managing engagement, soliciting grants, and designing the park.

Community opinion played an important role in the latter. “If a community is part of the neighborhood park design process, we ensure that the completed project reflects the needs of that community and serves the population,” says Mark.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and other non-profit partners have engaged in social media initiatives, hosting meetings and table sessions in local parks and schools. What are their priorities, “says Kjer.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust has developed six concept designs for the refurbished Zera Davis Park, which was voted by community members after soliciting feedback. Award-winning designs include a large playground, basketball hoops, promenades, and green spaces with native species and shade trees. New equipment such as bathrooms and park benches are also on the agenda. According to Kjer, this update will transform what was now just an empty lawn area into a “lively, easy-to-use public space.”

It took four rounds of grant applications in three years to receive enough funding for the Zera Davis Park project to move forward. In addition to funding from Clean California’s local grant program, the project also received $ 650,000 from Los Angeles County. The team embarks on a project. In June.

Meanwhile, according to Bowie, Hawthorne’s park renovation master plan is underway at other sites. At Holly Park and Ramona Park The Los Angeles County Measures Grant Program Jim Thorpe Park and Hollyglen Park are on the following list.

As with the refurbishment of Bicentenial and Zera Davis Park, Kjer says his mission is to rely on the community’s opinion that “get a site designated as a public open space and turn it into a park that really helps the community.” I am saying.

Marianne Denin covers social and environmental justice and politics.

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