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L.A. Council approves purchase of dairy site for future park along Los Angeles River

September 22, 2009 |  3:29 pm
The Los Angeles City Council today approved the purchase of a 6.3-acre dairy site along the L.A. River that officials hope to transform into a public park and water treatment center.
Officials have eyed the Albion Dairy site for several years as a prime location to clean storm water from the surrounding 254 acres before it enters the L.A. River through two drains that run parallel to the Spring Street and Main Street bridges. The parcel is part of an area straddling the river east of downtown that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hopes to transform into an incubator for clean technology companies.
The city is purchasing the dairy land with $17.6 million from Proposition O, the $500-million bond measure approved by voters in 2004 to clean up the city’s beaches, waterways and lakes.
There are no design plans yet for the park in the Lincoln Heights area, which is close to the Downey Recreation Center. City officials must still secure money to build the water treatment center and create the park — and that work will not begin for at least two years, when the dairy operator’s lease expires. Officials will raze the buildings and clear the site at that time.
Still, Councilman Ed Reyes, who is spearheading the city’s efforts to rehabilitate the L.A. River, said the project was an important step toward improving the city’s water quality and relieving “the pressures felt by these very crowded neighborhoods.”
Originally only $5 million was slated for the Albion Dairy purchase. But the council agreed Tuesday to use some of the money that had been set aside to buy land on the site of the old freight-switching and rail car maintenance facility known as Taylor Yard.

Nearly 40 acres of Taylor Yard have already been converted into the state’s Rio de Los Angeles State Park at 1900 San Fernando Road, part of which is managed by the city.
The City Council had set aside $25 million of Proposition O money to help acquire an adjacent 42-acre riverfront parcel of Taylor Yard, owned by Union Pacific, to create a wetlands that would remove pollutants from storm water runoff in the surrounding area.
But in a report, the city’s top budget analysts said they had made little progress acquiring that land and proposing to direct nearly half of it toward the Albion Dairy property purchase.
The money from Proposition O was divided between 32 water improvement projects. The largest undertakings include an $84-million project to drain and clean Echo Park Lake beginning in January 2011 and restoration of Machado Lake and the Wilmington Drain, which will cost more than $117 million.
-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall