After nearly six years of delay, a green space to improve public health project is becoming a reality in the Green Meadows neighborhood of South Los Angeles.
Heal the Bay, a California-based environmental protection organization, announced earlier this month that construction on Inell Woods Park, which was being created in partnership with Councilor Curren Price, the North East Trees nonprofit, California State Parks, and many local community members, would begin early 2022.
Located at the intersection of McKinley Avenue and East 87th Place in South LA, the park is designed not only to provide green space for the community, but also to increase and improve the quality of local water supplies to protect public health.
“We only have concrete, concrete, concrete. I’m so sick of concrete, it’s nice to have green spaces somewhere. I love green! “” When people look out the window and see something beautiful, they feel better. “
The need for more green spaces in LA is a topic of discussion for environmental organizations. In 2019, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a Green New Deal that pledged to increase the number of trees and green spaces, especially in some of LA’s most vulnerable communities. COVID-19 caused delays in its goal of planting 90,000 trees by the end of last year, according to NBC Los Angeles.
A recent study at the University of San Diego found that across the country, colored communities with less wealth and green spaces were consistently several degrees hotter than predominantly white and affluent neighborhoods. These communities are known as urban heat islands, and Heal the Bay has taken the initiative to plan and open up green spaces in the South LA area to address the ongoing problem.
“When you have a community that is so underserved, it is really imperative and strategic to build places to improve public health in communities in greatest need,” said Meredith McCarthy, director of operations at Heal the Bay. “If we get healthy neighborhoods, we get a healthy environment.”
The park will collect water from rain runoff in the surrounding streets that will be filtered and reused to irrigate the park. The rainwater system has 100 percent waste-free irrigation efficiency, a large reduction in water use compared to other forms of irrigation, and treats, stores and reuses 16,000 gallons.
“In light of the climate crisis, I think it is extremely important to have as much green space as possible, especially in neighborhoods that have historically been lacking in green space,” said Katherine Pease, director of science and policy at Heal the Bay. “Small green spaces alone help to cool down the urban heat island effect. It will be a nice place for people to cool off a bit and take a break from the heat. “
While Heal the Bay proposed the first plans for Inell Woods Park nearly six years ago, efforts to open the park have been slow due to a lack of funds and the pandemic.
The organization plans to create a park that will enhance, reuse and deliver high quality water while reducing the impact of carbon and lessening the heat island effect. With funding from the Safe Clean Water Program, approved by voters in 2019, Heal the Bay is supported by local government to expand green spaces while improving water supply and quality.
“The Curren Price office just got wind under our wings that we haven’t had in a long time,” said McCarthy. “We are very happy to remind the community that it is still to come, we have confidence and hope that we can start building right away in the New Year.”
The City of LA, Heal the Bay, North East Trees and Councilor Curren Price invited parishioners to the Open House at Inell Woods Park last Saturday. The event was designed to “remind everyone of the renders and decisions we made a few years ago,” said McCarthy.
Community members who attended the event were excited to see what the new park could do. Jimmie Woods-Gray, who is also the daughter of the park’s namesake, Inell Woods, attended the event and said she was delighted.
“Parks are like living rooms for the people in these communities, and so they will have a new place to be outside and space for the children to play and release some of their energies. It will be a great thing for the seniors. For the kids. For everyone who lives in the neighborhood, ”said Woods-Gray.
Another participant, Demarae Bowles, believes the park will serve as a place for community members to come together, strengthen one another, and overcome struggles.
“No lie, we need help here. And you know, communities can come together and help one another, ”Bowles said. “No shame in their game … I just came to band together to try to uplift the community as best I could.”