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Park in San Pedro replaces former chemical storage site

January 9, 2010 |  3:23 pm

More than 1,000 people turned out today to celebrate the opening of a 16-acre park of meadows and trees on a former chemical tank farm in San Pedro that had been a blight for decades.

The new 22nd Street Park is part of a $1.2-billion revitalization project designed to transform 8 miles of long-neglected waterfront into a vibrant, upscale interface with the communities of San Pedro and Wilmington. Its 4.5-acre grassy area is adjacent to the 22nd Street Landing, near the southwest end of the Port of Los Angeles.

“Imagine. This was once a toxic waste site -- but look at it now,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was among several officials at the dedication.

“This was just an old, blighted patch of dirt,” said L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a San Pedro resident whose district includes the port. “Now, it’s an important and beautiful enhancement for San Pedro and for the international community.”

The park, landscaped with 1,700 shrubs including bull clover, carpet acacia and California sea lavender, sits on a former Union Oil Company tank farm site that stored petroleum products from 1958 to 1988. The site was closed in 1994.

It may take 10 years to complete the San Pedro makeover, which also calls for an 8.7-mile promenade and replacement of the ailing Ports O’ Call Village tourist spot with up to 300,000 square feet of new restaurants, shops and conference facilities.

“What we saw today,” said Arley Baker, a spokesman for the nation’s busiest container port, “was an installment in the effort to balance open space with commercial development next to communities impacted by us on a daily basis.”

-- Louis Sahagun