Second Wetlands Park opens in South L.A.

imageNinth District Councilwoman Jan Perry greets 49th Street Elementary School students at South L.A. Wetlands Park.

All drains lead to the ocean from the new South Los Angeles Wetlands Park. Its developers think the park will make storm water cleaner – and its own community safer.

It will also become a space for fun and learning, said Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry.

“Right here at 54th and Avalon, it’s going to be a green space. it’s going to be an outdoor classroom for these kids, and give them something they’ve never had before.”

Perry has championed Wetlands restoration for most of her council term. Five years ago, this park was a metro bus yard. Now, it’s a nine-acre oasis – and the second such park in Perry’s district. The first, the Augustus F. Hawkins Wetlands Park, is a two-acre square on the corner of Compton Ave. and Slauson Ave. in Huntington Park.

It’s not just for the kids, though. The South L.A. park collects runoff, removes floating trash and dangerous chemicals, and then lets it drain naturally into the ocean.

Michelle Vargas is a spokeswoman for the L.A. Department of Public Works.

imageThe wetlands cover 9 acres of land along 54th Street in South L.A.

“It’s very important for us to clean the storm water because that’s what goes out into the L.A. river and then out into the ocean. Obviously it’s environmentally friendly, and it protects public health in the city of L.A.”

This park is a neighborhood dream come true for Rhonda Webb. she directs environmental volunteer projects for students at Compton’s Leaps Action Center.

“It’s just a vision of open space, and I can just imagine the various middle schools, high schools and community members coming out and just having a healthier outlook about their life and about their future,” Webb described. “We can actually come together and collaborate and actually do wonderful things that can really improve the quality of life for all residents.”

In fact, Webb hopes her neighborhood is next.

“When would I like to see it? Tomorrow,” she laughed. “I have visions of grandeur – tomorrow!”

She hopes the new park will inspire her neighborhood to start working on a ribbon-cutting ceremony of its own.