Growing up in the housing projects of Harbor City, California, several of my childhood memories took place in the Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, or as my parents would call it, el parque de los patos (the park of the ducks). This 231-acre park was the ideal setting for many morning walks with my father, riding my bicycle and playing on the swings with my sister, feeding the ducks with my mother, and countless birthday celebrations that would bring family members and friends together. It was also one of very few spaces that existed near my home where I could freely be a child. Unfortunately, playing outside of my home was often difficult; as it was common to see drugs, gangs, and violence there. This park offered everything I needed: green space in which to play, walking and cycling trails, and a beautiful lake where I could watch and feed the ducks.
However, the last time that I visited this park—about three years ago—it had greatly deteriorated. The grass was no longer green and the little water that remained in the lake had lost its once crystalline appearance. It seemed that this ecological oasis had been forgotten and was now hidden in weeds, trash, and contaminated water.
Today, Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, located in between Harbor College, a golf course, and a refinery is closed. It is being restored thanks to a $111-million ecosystem rehabilitation project centered around the park’s Lake Machado. Funding for the park’s rehabilitation is possible through Proposition O, a park bond initiative that was approved by voters back in November of 2004. But why did it take so long to begin the restoration process? Some contribute the delay to municipal neglect in a community that has a predominantly low-income, non-voting constituency.
The rehabilitation process will consist of the following:
- Dredging six zones separately to remove the toxic sediments;
- Increasing the depth of the lake by a few feet to make it harder for non-native species to multiply;
- Capping the bottom of the lake with an AquaBlock bio-layer and an oxygenation system to improve the circulation of water;
- Removing invasive plants and vegetation in order to replace them with native species; and
- Plans for park landscaping and irrigation.
Work on this park is expected to be completed in spring 2017 and most areas will remain closed until its completion. However, the closure is worthwhile when one considers that these types of restorations promote the physical and psychological well-being of oneself through the built environment; especially in communities like Harbor City and Wilmington that lack green space.
Is there an open space in your community that is in need of rehabilitation or currently undergoing rehabilitation? How are local authorities responding to the maintenance of green spaces? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments below.
Credits: Images by Marisol Maciel-Cervantes. Data linked to sources.