Each month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies city parks that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges faced as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures and urban neighborhood decay. In recognition of its innovative practices in partnerships and community engagement, El Sereno Arroyo Playground has been named a Frontline Park.
“This is a wonderful example of a community coming together to see the potential to turn an empty lot into a neighborhood park. And then people in that community worked tirelessly to turn their vision into reality,” said Gina Fromer, California Director of The Trust for Public Land. “Our mission is to create parks for people, and we were happy to help this neighborhood realize its dream. Thank you to the City Parks Alliance for recognizing this unique park.”
In the mid 2000s, a local grassroots organization called the Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno began advocating for the transformation of a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. The lot, a right-of-way owned by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), had been empty for decades, and the community saw potential in the site as a park rather than yet another road. Community planning and outreach for the project began in 2009, when Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and City Councilman Gil Cedillo (who was a State Senator during the process) began negotiations with CalTrans to secure a 25-year lease for the property. During that time, The Trust for Public Land and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks worked with multiple stakeholders to conduct a thorough community outreach and design process. By the summer of 2012, the park was under construction and took four months to complete.
Even though it was developed on less than an acre of land, El Sereno Arroyo makes good use of every square foot. In addition to the playground donated by PlayCore, the space includes grassy hills, a Fitness Zone for adults, walking paths, picnic tables, mosaic art, decorative fencing, and even a garden. The park, which is one of the newest additions to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, has diverse offerings that attract a variety of users, from children at a local daycare center to adults looking for a place to exercise outdoors.