After five years of planning, public outreach, and environmental review, the effort to transform the Silver Lake Reservoir into a massive public park has cleared another important hurdle.
The Los Angeles City Council has voted to adopt the findings of a final environmental impact report for the Silver Lake Reservoir master plan, which would convert roughly 116 acres of the 127-acre Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoir complex into park space. Under plans designed by Hargreaves Jones, the massive space would be subdivided into seven different components, including:
- The Meadow: an expansion of existing park space at the reservoir, which would add an education center, seating terraces, gardens, a picnic grove, a play area, a floating dock, and wetland terraces;
- The Knoll: converting unused space at the northeast side of the reservoir with shade structures, a nature trail, and seating terraces;
- Ivanhoe Overlook: expanding an existing walking path along the Ivanhoe Reservoir, while adding habitat terraces, a shade pavilion, wetland footpaths, observation platforms, and embankment improvements;
- Eucalyptus Grove: converting inaccessible space on the west bank of the reservoir through the addition habitat terraces, an overlook, and seating terraces;
- East and West Narrows - expanding the walking path along the southeast and southwest sides of the reservoir, while adding seating terraces, an overlook, fitness equipment, and embankment enhancements;
- The South Valley: expanding, reconfiguring, and renovating the existing Silver Lake Recreation and Dog Park, while adding a new entry plaza, seating, landscaping, and a multi-purpose facility; and
- Habitat Islands; new spaces within the reservoir itself to introduce fish and other species.
The different components of the proposed park would be knit together by a 2.5-mile landscaped promenade which would line the perimeter of the reservoir. The final plan also officially does away with plans for street parking along the reservoir's Silver Lake Boulevard frontage, which is now intended to be turned into a two-way bike trail.
Likewise, direct access to the water through floating docks and opportunities for kayaking have been removed. Instead, the only access to the water will be provided through paths and observational terraces built within wetland area.
While the master plan establishes a framework for how the reservoirs may be converted to park space, an actual timeline is contingent on the availability of funding. While a report from the LADWP Office of Public Accountability indicates that it has been determined that LADWP should not foot the bill for the project, as it is not directly connected to drinking water service, other options such as a Mello-Roos district remain on the table. Likewise, the approval of an environmental impact report opens up the possibility of the city exploring competitive grant funding through state and federal sources.
Should money become available, it is expected that construction would occur in two phases. Initial construction would focus on the Ivanhoe Reservoir, the Eucalyptus Grove, Habitat Islands, the Knoll, and the Meadow. A second phase would include the East and West Narrows, the South Valley, and additional upgrades to the Ivanhoe Reservoir and the Meadow. The shortest possible construction timeline for the full master plan is estimated at five years.
Built in the early 20th century ago by William Mulholland, the reservoir complex once served much of Central Los Angeles, but was phased out of use in 2006 as a result of changing Federal rules regarding open-air storage of drinking water. The master plan was initiated in 2018, following a community-driven proposal which envisioned a similar range of improvements.
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