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Logan Heights Residents Are Building Their Own Community Space

A group of Logan Heights residents are building a community gathering space on loaned private land on Imperial Avenue. They spent the weekend setting up a treehouse, amphitheater, maze and other play areas.

At high noon on a steamy September day, students were sanding and sawing in Logan Heights. They’re converting a vacant lot on Imperial Avenue into a community gathering space called The Gilliam Family Community Garden & Park.

The space will include a treehouse, amphitheater, maze and other play areas and be a place for residents to gather for movie nights and workshops, said project organizer Avital Aboody.

"This is just the community coming together to create a gathering space that didn’t exist here, that the community really wanted to see and deserves in this neighborhood," she said.

BAME Community Development Corporation, a community-based organization, began planning the project along with neighborhood residents a year ago after the Gilliam family, which owns the lot, loaned it to them. The community calls the project H.A.C.E.R., or Helping Achieve Community Empowerment & Revitalization. Architects and artists from Space 4 Art designed the layout and are orchestrating the construction of the space, which includes a treehouse and amphitheater.

Aboody said the neighborhood was in dire need of community space and advocated for a park in the last city budget process. When that didn't happen, they decided to build it themselves. They are raising money to pay for the project and received a $5,000 grant from Councilmember David Alvarez's office.

Over the weekend, local students, community members and artists joined police officers and Navy volunteers to complete the bulk of the work on the gathering space.

Elizabeth Rodriguez, who lives five blocks away, said the project will bring big change for local children.

"They’re really excited to have a space where they can play, where they can be with their friends and that they can actually access, that’s not out of their neighborhood," she said. "The kids themselves have come out here and invested their time, their blood, sweat and tears into this."

Aboody said she hopes the space will be open in November.

Photo caption: Student volunteers work on building a community gathering space with a treeho...

Photo by Claire Trageser

Student volunteers work on building a community gathering space with a treehouse and maze on Imperial Avenue in Logan Heights, Sept. 25, 2015.

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