View of Hollenbeck Park. Photo by Jonathan Olivares.

By Julia Paskin and Sam Benson Smith

Originally published Mar 13, 2022 

Hollenbeck Park is set to receive a big facelift, courtesy of a $5 million Caltrans grant.

Boyle Heights has experienced some of the worst impacts of pollution in the region. That put the neighborhood at the front of the line for the Caltrans Clean California grant to improve its green spaces.

Councilmember Kevin de Leon, who represents Boyle Heights, said the funds are crucial.

“[In] the neighborhood…there’s a lot of concrete, asphalt and cement.” he said. “I think our community residents deserve to have much more shade, and that’s a good thing so it can help sequester a lot of the harmful pollutants from the freeway.”

The grant will go to planting 200 new trees and the installation of paved pathways throughout the park. Hollenbeck Park partially extends under the I-5 freeway.

“In short, we’re going to beautify this park,” the councilmember continued. “A lot of the residents in this neighborhood don’t have the financial wherewithal to access Mother Nature, [it’s] maybe two or three hours away… Many of our parks are not in shape.”

(Courtesy LA Parks)

The Los Angeles Housing Authority also received a grant to replace outdated homes in Jordans Downs Urban Village in Watts.

Another grant will go to Ramona Gardens/City Terrace, where the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will install a sound wall, clean up litter and vandalism in the area, and contract out local artists to paint a mural on the sound barrier.

“Communities deserve clean spaces to gather and show their pride,” Caltrans District 7 Director Tony Tavares said in a statement. “By working with local and state partners to beautify these spaces, Caltrans is advancing projects that will provide years of economic, health and safety benefits for California residents.”

A total of $88 million dollars will be given to projects in District 7, which covers Los Angeles and Ventura County. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the $296 million grant program at the beginning of March.

Green spaces in Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim are also set to receive Clean California Grants.

In Santa Ana, a 9,000 sq. ft. piece of land at 10th and King streets will be made into recreational space. Caltrans says that the community is currently underserved. The project will replace asphalt with green space and connect bike paths.

The Oak View neighborhood in Huntington Beach will get funding to improve its walkability, including improvements aimed at increasing the safety of pedestrians. Those efforts will be centered around Oak View Elementary School. The money will also be used on a “Keep Your Neighborhood Clean and Beautiful” campaign “to deter future litter and vandalism.”

And in Anaheim, money will go to the North La Palma Green Promenade to transform the parkway there “into a thriving and attractive pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, tree-lined, one-way promenade.”

All projects need to be completed by June 30, 2024.

This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2022 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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