A small lot in a densely-populated section of Boyle Heights close to the Soto Gold Line Station will be converted into a pocket park with state funds announced Monday by the City of Los Angeles.

The Brooklyn Heights Park will be built at 318 North Matthews Street through a Proposition 68 grant of $5.2 million –part of $19.2 million the city will use to improve two other parks in Eastside communities and to build a brand new park in Sun Valley.

Boyle Heights property that will be converted into a pocket park.

“Parks are the heart of our city, because they are where people of all ages can come together to create a sense of community and belonging,” said Mayor Garcetti in his announcement. “New funds flowing into these neighborhoods means that we can provide more opportunities for Angelenos to get out on the field, enjoy healthy recreation, and connect with nature and the outdoors.”

The 5.2 million will include the cost of acquiring the .19 acres parcel currently occupied by two abandoned structures, including a large, early 20th century home in the front part of the lot. In March, 2019, Urbanize reported that the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks intended to acquire the lot but it had not identified the funds needed.

The grant will also go towards the installation of fitness equipment, shade structures, a walking path, public art, and new landscaping and lighting. 

A 2010 report found Boyle Heights to be the most “park poor” neighborhood in the city.

According to a city report from last year, close to 14,000 people live in the neighborhood surrounding the Brooklyn Heights Park site, including 5,100 people living within a half-mile radius. The area’s density increased with the 2018 opening of the 50-unit Cielito Lindo project near Soto and 1st and will increase further with the impending completion of Phase 2 of Cielito Lindo and the planned construction of two affordable developments on César Chávez Avenue –one with 77 units, the other with 60– less than two blocks away from the proposed park.

The City of Los Angeles’ 19.2 million in park funds represent the largest sum of grants given to any California agency in the most recent round of grants under Proposition 68, which was passed by voters in 2018 to create new parks and recreation activities. In total, $254.9 million were awarded to 62 projects statewide. 

Last summer, the Department of Recreation and Parks held 111 community meetings to receive input for Proposition 68 applications. 

The other funded projects in the Eastside are for already existing parks in Lincoln Heights and El Sereno. They include $4.8 million to add a new synthetic soccer field, shade structures, public artm a walking path, fitness equipment, lighting and landscaping, barbeque and picnic area, a playground, a basketball court; and a parking lot to the Lincoln Heights Recreation Center. Also more than $2.1 million for updates at El Sereno Arroyo Playground, with a new playground, a walking path, a fitness area, public art, restrooms; lighting and landscaping and new fencing.

Finally, nearly $7 million will be used to build the new Allegheny Park in Sun Valley.

Under grant conditions, all work to improve and build the four parks is required to be completed by June 30, 2022.

Photo above: rendering of Brooklyn Heights Park by Department of Recreation and Parks.

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