Introduction

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Introduction

RiverLink Design Concepts

Destinations

Destinations are the centers of activity in the RiverLink system and are at the terminus of the pathways, providing valuable open space and parks along the Los Angles River. Entrance and regulatory signs inform visitors of entrance points to the river greenway, as well as park rules and regulations. RiverLink entry signage to parks, greenways, and bikeways will take the place of those signs outlined in the Los Angeles River Master Plan. The signs may take a sculptural or artistic form, derived from the thematic design guidelines appropriate for those neighborhoods adjacent to the park site.

Beginning at the mouth of the river and working north, the destinations are:

Golden Shore Wetlands

The Golden Shore Wetlands are located near the mouth of the Los Angeles River along the east bank. These estuary wetlands were recently restored and are the first park attraction along the Los Angeles River greenway.
Design Response: Monitoring by professional wetlands restoration experts will continue on this site. The design team was not privy to the final plans for the site, nor to the progress of the restoration efforts to this point, but recommends a concept to augment the site that includes several elements appearing throughout the RiverLink system. The design team suggests the chain link fence be removed, and that signage be installed to mark entry, post park regulations, assist in wayfinding, and interpretation of the wetlands. The concept features RiverLink-style “overlook” bird-blinds and bird nesting structures that allow visitors to view the waterfowl and that provide for interpretive signage, while maintaining a physical and visual separation between people and the sensitive wildlife. Native landscape treatments with seating provide areas of shaded respite. A gateway signifies the beginning of the Los Angeles River just north of the site at the LARIO Bikeway.

Interpretive signs will educate visitors about the Golden Shore Wetlands. The RiverLink interpretive signs will take the place of the standard interpretive signs outlined by the Los Angeles River Master Plan, so that a more integral directional system can be achieved. These signs will tell about the physical, natural, and cultural history of the Los Angeles River and Golden Shore Wetlands. Interpretive signage will take on thematic design elements appropriate to adjacent neighborhoods.

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Drake Greenbelt

The Drake Greenbelt is a series of postindustrial sites adjacent to the existing Drake Park that will require linkages into the community and reclamation efforts by the City of Long Beach.

The site is approximately 32 acres, consisting of former Union Pacific Railroad properties and right-of-ways that stretch from Daisy Avenue southwest to the river channel. Much of this land has oil and heavy metal contamination. Views from Loma Vista Drive look out over the railroad property and into the southern end of Magnolia Yards. An existing ceramics warehouse sits adjacent to Chester Place and two MTA buildings are located across the street in the MTA Yards, which is contaminated with hydrocarbons and petrochemicals. Across the freeway, the MTA also owns a small parcel for mini-bus transit. This parcel has potential to be acquired as part of the Drake Greenbelt. West of the Mini-Transit buildings is a parcel of bare ground adjacent to the river channel which includes an LACDPW pump house and remnants of road construction that was never completed. Additionally, nesting sites for the federally threatened snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) have been recorded on this bare site. Phytoremediation processes are recommended by the design team to assist in the reclamation of the site. It is important to note that the city will not purchase any of these properties until they receive a letter of “No Further Action” regarding the contamination cleanup.

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The Magnolia Yards

The Magnolia Yards potential park site consists of industrial sites between Anaheim Street and Pacific Coast Highway, from the foot of the river channel to Magnolia Avenue. Most of the parcels that front the river are owned by the city and are used for storage of roadway signage and construction materials. The city is currently in the process of transferring the stock and equipment at these sites to other locations south of the airport in order to make these sites available for possible redevelopment. The Magnolia Yards sites will have an industrial flavor to match the larger scales and utilitarian styles of the surrounding industrial buildings and the massive industrial infrastructure just below Pacific Coast Highway. Included in the southeast part of the property is the relocated Southern Pacific Rail Station, a historic landmark, which is a fine example of Spanish Mission architecture as seen in the early part of the 1900s.

The city desires to add live/work studio lofts to the area. This will help develop a warehouse district featuring galleries, small retail shops, and restaurants, as well as the studio lofts. Such development creates economic vitality in an underutilized area within walking distance of downtown Long Beach. The development area also boasts prime river frontage, good access to I -710 from Anaheim Street, and good access to the freight railway tracks. The development area encompasses the industrial zone just west of the Washington School to the east bank of the Los Angeles River. The focal point of this zone is the Magnolia Yards development and the planned 14th Street park extension, terminating at the yards with the Magnolia Market Place, the Long Beach River Center, a sustainable commercial and industrial zone, and a museum celebrating the city’s history housed in the historic Southern Pacific Rail Station. The Magnolia Market Place will feature shops, restaurants and a regular farmers and artisans market. The Long Beach River Center will house educational facilities such as a community college extension focusing on sustainable trades and industry. The north end of the development site will feature residential lofts, live/work studios and galleries. These new uses will be housed in former industrial buildings or on former industrial sites. In adaptive reuse of industrial buildings, the building shell can be upgraded and act as a tent over substructures built within, which house the individual shops and other leaseable units. If the bike station downtown needs to relocate, the design team recommends that a home be found for it in this area due to Magnolia Yards’ proximity to the LARIO Bikeway.

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Wrigley Greenbelt

The Wrigley Greenbelt occupies narrow properties along the river channel from Pacific Coast Highway north to Wardlow Avenue. These properties vary in width from 25 ft to 225 ft and provide an invaluable green link between the parks at Magnolia Yards and Drake Greenbelt, and the Wrigley Heights Park north of Wardlow. During the community outreach meetings, residents suggested that the Wrigley Greenbelt also provide an undulating “par course” pathway trail with fitness stations along the foot of the berm, planted with native trees and shrubs.

The Wrigley Heights sites and the Wrigley Greenbelt will exhibit Spanish Revival amenity style responses. This is due to predominance of Spanish Revival homes in this area, the neighborhood association identification with those styles, and the location of the Historic Rancho Los Cerritos, just northeast of the Wrigley Heights sites.

The LARIO Bikeway continues along the top of the channel berm, however, smaller paths for pedestrian and slower moving bicycles will weave through the greenbelt at the foot of the slope. Consistent with the city’s wishes for appropriate wetlands development, a narrow reed-rock filter bed will capture urban runoff occurring near the berm that does not make it to the storm sewer system, and will direct it south through the greenbelt. This allows percolation into the groundwater aquifers while removing heavy sediments and chemicals from the water. Connections to the LARIO Bikeway will be enhanced near Hill and Spring Streets with handicap accessible ramping and stairway connections. A surrounding of riparian woodlands consisting of cottonwood trees (Populus fremontii), sycamores trees (Planatnus sp.) and willow trees (Salix sp.) denote these connections and provide shaded places of respite off the bike trail.

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Wrigley Heights Park

This 50-acre property has operated as a processing area to receive and treat brines and oil-waste fluids, to recover low-grade oil for resale, and to discharge wastewater into the sewer system. The treatment plant consisted of five circular concrete skimming basins, two large collection ponds, and various aboveground storage tanks. Historically, an equestrian center operated on the southeast portion of the area. A small mini-storage facility is located next to the former stables. The site is bordered by the I-405 freeway to the north, Wardlow Road to the south, Golden Avenue to the east and the Los Angeles River to the west.
Because of the site’s past use, remediation of contaminated soil must be accomplished prior to development of the community open space. The remediation process will involve three methods: (a) treat contaminated soil using onsite bioremediation, (b) incorporate soil into engineered subbase, (c) transport soil offsite which is beyond bioremediation methods.

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Dominguez Gap Wetlands

The Dominguez Gap is currently part of Los Angeles County Flood Control District. It consists of storm water holding basins and several pump houses along the river channel from north of the Metro Blue Line bridge, to the proposed Deforest Wetlands System just above the Long Beach Boulevard bridge. Urban runoff is directed into these basins and is retained until it reaches a certain level, when it is then pumped into the river. The Blue Line overpass creates a major edge between the Dominguez Gap and Wrigley Heights Park. Dominguez Gap lies adjacent to the Los Cerritos neighborhood and stretches behind the Virginia Country Club. There is a proposal to make the current system into a wetlands demonstration park using hydrologic connections to Los Angeles River water and/or other water sources. The design team was not privy to the proposal’s details, but there is a strong likelihood that it will be approved because of the level of county and city interest and collaboration. There is a similar wetlands site proposed for Dominguez Gap, on the West Bank of the Los Angeles River, between Wardlow Road and the Union Pacific rail line or between Compton Creek’s inlet and the Los Angeles River.

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Deforest Wetlands

The city has proposed wetlands development in Deforest, similar to those planned for Dominguez Gap. The firm of CH2M Hill has done an extensive feasibility study of this area and has developed several design concepts for the wetlands.

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Deforest Park

Deforest Park is an existing park and currently includes recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts, a recreation center, and the Deforest Nature Trail. The nature trail is overgrown with exotic plant species and needs significant help to restore it ecologically. Additionally, safety is a concern here because of vagrancy, and the lack of lighting, emergency phones, and exits. The LARIO Bikeway continues along the top of the channel berm; however there are few access points in the Deforest system. The city has well-developed plans for the Deforest Nature Trail, so the design team was directed only to connect the existing park with the river greenway treatment, thus creating a consistent theme along the edge of the Los Angeles River. The design team proposes that further research and work be done on the nature trail to restore both ecological and social balance. North Long Beach residents like having a nature trail, but feel that Deforest is unsafe. Plans include design solutions for increased safety.

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