City Heights Park Nears Completion
City engineers are just waiting for the new plants to take root before opening Charles Lewis III Memorial Park on Home Avenue in City Heights to the public.
It has a dog park, half basketball court, space for barbecues, grass to run around on and two playgrounds.
"It's a small park, but it has a lot of detail," said resident engineer on the project Harry Nguyen.
The park will bring about two acres of useable parkland to a neighborhood that's about 100 acres short of the city's goal of 2.8 acres per 1,000 residents.
"It's really hard to walk to a park and with this park being built, it's fantastic for me and my daughter," said Cindy Corona who lives in the apartment building next door. She said she and her daughter look forward to taking their puppy to the dog park.
Since a 2008 Grand Jury report on the neighborhood's park shortage, the city has broken ground on about five acres of new parkland there, including the Central Avenue Mini Park, Wightman Street Park and City Heights Square Mini Park.
The acreage doesn't include projects taken on by residents. They've taken it upon themselves to turn their canyons into useable recreation space with benches, art and trails. The canyons were once used for illegal dumping.
"We had bottles, we had carpets, we had ACs buried five feet down," said Nguyen of the lot on which Charles Lewis Park now sits. His crews spent months excavating construction debris and grading the site.
They also restored native plant life in adjacent Auburn Canyon and installed special drainage to keep more trash and sediment from getting into the city's watershed and storm drains.
City spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said nearby residents are already inquiring about reserving the park for birthday parties.
They'll have to wait a little while longer. The family of late City Councilman Charles Lewis is expected to cut the ribbon on the park in December.
Meanwhile, construction on another City Heights park is delayed. Central Avenue Mini Park is now expected to open next summer.