Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cornfield Revisited

Long time readers of the chanchow may remember some previous posts about Not a Cornfield. If you're not familiar, long story short: last year the Annenberg Foundation provided funds to turn a 32-acre brownfield site (just north of Chinatown in downtown LA) known as "the cornfield" into an actual cornfield. It was rad. The corn grew real high and was eventually harvested to make recyclable materials and ethanol. In addition to being an real cornfield, the site served as a public art space where music was played and movies were shown, all for free.

Now the corn is gone and last week State officials announced a design competition to turn the area into a public park. The competition is in its infancy, but already there is concern over funding and the use and focus of the park.
While [City Councilman Ed Reyes] noted that it's ultimately up to the designers and state officials to determine what the park will feature, he said he would like to see a mix of athletic fields and green spaces for people to gather. The goal should be to engage the surrounding neighborhoods, Reyes said.

"It has to be a dynamic place that reflects the energy of the city," he said.

That mix is important to the community as well, said Kim Benjamin, president of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, which has been an active voice in the Cornfield debate.

"I don't think that having it simply football, soccer and baseball fields is appropriate and I don't think that having it completely passive is a good utilization of the site," Benjamin said. "There needs to be something in the middle."

State Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg said that the new park should acknowledge the site's historical significance. She noted that the zanja madre, the dirt ditch that once delivered water from the Los Angeles River to the city's first pueblo, runs through the site.

"I'd like to see it do some things that help people understand the history of that area," she said. "That piece of property played an important role in Los Angeles."
From the Downtown News. Sounds like this could be a long, drawn out process. I'm glad to hear that they're trying to make it nice though. There's a great view of downtown LA from the cornfield and, as we all know, LA needs more green spaces.

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