The City of Los Angeles is finally taking steps toward opening one of its most scenic open spaces as a park.

Last week, 4th District Councilmember introduced a motion which calls for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Department of Recreation and Parks to report on the feasibility of opening the Rowena Reservoir Complex for passive recreation use.

On the surface, the 9.64-acre site - bounded by Maxwell Street, Ettrick Street, Rowena Avenue, and Hyperion Avenue - already appears much like a park, featuring two ponds with waterfalls, artificial rockwork, landscaping, and decorative fencing.  But beneath those improvements sits a 10-million gallon underground water storage tank and appurtenant chlorination (no longer in service), two regulator stations, a pump station, and power stations - critical infrastructure for Los Angeles' drinking water supply.  In addition, there is also a filtration system to service the above-ground water feature.

The presence of those facilities has long been cited as the reason for closing the property to public access.  But, as LADWP Chief Operating Officer Marty Adams told the Los Angeles Times in 2017, it is possible to open the reservoir to public use with some modifications to protect the water storage facility below - though he cautioned that many of the existing improvements were purely for aesthetic purposes.  

"DWP isn't in the parks business," Adams told the Times. "But we are open to opportunities to use our properties in different ways."

The Los Feliz Neighborhood Council has recently considered the question of opening the Rowena Reservoir to public use, though some neighbors have expressed resistance to the idea, reports the Eastsider.

Ryu's motion has been referred to the City Council's Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee for consideration.  A hearing will not occur until after the City Council's July recess.

The City of Los Angeles has also pondering the future of another facility that was once critical to its drinking water supply - the Silver Lake Reservoir.  A master plan is now in progress to potentially reactivate the 96-acre facility for recreational purposes.