Residents and library patrons surrounding Vernon Library had waited for a transformation between 45th and 46th Street along Vernon Avenue. The city had designated the site as new pocket park, one of 50 such parks under the mayor’s “50 Park Initiative” — a two-year plan to inject small, public spaces into dense urban neighborhoods like South Los Angeles
But as the Los Angeles Times reported, that park was lost when the city and the Los Angeles Unified School District failed to inform one another on their plans for the space. In the end, LAUSD razed the property to begin construction on a new elementary school — set to be open by 2012.
While the city caught flak for wasting $600,000 of planning time and designs for the Vernon Library Pocket Park, residents were left wondering whether they would get the promised park or if the project as a whole would be forgotten.
“We are rebuilding the park as part of the school project at the same size on the corner where it is actually closer to [Vernon Library],” said Brianna Garcia, a facilities manager for LAUSD.
The new site will include a new crosswalk connecting the library and the park on the corner of 45th and Vernon Ave, she said.
Despite the messy exchange that resulted in the initial loss of the park, Garcia said that the intention of LAUSD was always to erect a replacement park once it acquired the property for its school, dubbed Regional Elementary #21.
“It was part of the discussions with the city when we wanted to acquire the pocket park that they had the replacement park so we worked with them on the location and the design to make sure that the park will be rebuilt,” she said.
The new Vernon Library Pocket Park does not have a completion date, but the school on the same site is set to open by fall of next year.
Garcia said LAUSD is not ruling out opening up the school for public use after operating hours, a useful tool at the disposal of the district to repurpose schools in dense communities into public grounds.
“We have talked with the city about having a joint use, not that school exclusively, but we are going build the park and then there’s still the possibility of joint use at the school site itself at the same time,” she said.
The decision to relocate the park is a turnaround for a community that has been up in arms about getting more park space. In November, the City Council voted to abstain from building a park on the South Central Farmers plot after the community was promised to receive one.