Funding in the amount of $2 million has been secured for the 51st Street Greenbelt Park project in North Long Beach. This project will transform a dirt lot located close to the Los Angeles River into a green space that will include trees, fitness equipment, and plants that naturally remove pollutants from rainwater runoff.
The assistance of Congresswoman Nanette Barragán, who is responsible for representing a significant portion of North Long Beach, was crucial for securing the federal funding. She estimates that 50 percent of Los Angeles residents live in areas with no parks or other green spaces nearby.
“[Low-income and communities of color] have less than 10% of park acreage per resident than, say, more affluent areas in East Long Beach,” she said. Last year, a report from the non-profit Trust for Public Land revealed that communities of color have 43 percent less park space than white neighborhoods.
The park will have a variety of amenities like natural walking trails, play areas for children, workout equipment, and more. According to Barragán, it is necessary for “these neighborhoods to have green spaces for their kids, for [wellness], and for mental health reasons.”
Barragán pointed out that parks provide a cooling effect that helps prevent the urban heat island effect, which occurs when pavement, buildings, and other surfaces absorb and retain heat.
“Having more tree canopy and shade — it’s going to help reduce air pollution by sequestering carbon and other toxins and improve water quality by removing contaminants from stormwater runoff. So this is really a greater effort to [help] these communities combat the climate injustice that they have and the lack of green space,” Barragán said.
Kevin McGuire, a spokesperson for Barragán, said that there is currently no schedule for the project, although it is possible that it will be finished in five years. Later on this year, Barragán anticipates the allocation of an extra $15 million as well as a new round of community-funded projects for the development of urban parks.