Parks and Recreation: Los Angeles edition

Two long-foreclosed homes in South Los Angeles have been officially transformed into parks. The lots, which sit on either side of 49th Street Elementary School, now serve the neighborhood with new functions—one park has exercise equipment for adults and the other has a playground and grassy area for children.

Mayor Villaraigosa unveiled the public recreational space by announcing that these were only the first of 50 new parks for Los Angeles, each being under an acre and built on foreclosed properties. Much of the $80 million investment will focus on creating play space in “poor neighborhoods that have historically had less recreation space than other parts of the city.”

It’s great to see otherwise unproductive space in the City put to good use. However, as to every innovative and greener method, questions of maintenance and funding must be answered. With understaffed parks throughout the city, new methods to preservation must be approached. How can the city take care of these new spaces when it can’t even keep up with its existing parks?

One such way is to employ the neighborhood while promoting public safety. Students and young adults in near-by schools could find part-time employment or receive community service credit by doing anything from basic maintenance to working internships with the Parks and Recreation department. Afterschool programs encouraging exercise and outdoor healthy living could be held at these open spaces, where parents and adults can help keep the parks safe.

 Going green is not a question—it is our future. But we have to remember it is not an instant transformation that can function on its own. Green ideas often require similar care as traditional methods, and it is up to us to continue create visions such as this parks and recreation plan, while making sure it is financially and physically sustainable for long term use.

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