Just before the turn of this century, many of us who first moved Historic Downtown Los Angeles - even before the first new lofts opened - had given up our own gardens and lawns to help revitalize the heart of our city. That was one of the reasons why we wanted to create public green spaces that would bring a bit of nature back to Main and Spring Streets just as the lush gardens that surrounding the early Victorian homes were designed to attract birds and butterflies and dragon flies.
So in 2004 at the first meeting of the Public Works Committee of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) we passed the first resolution asking what was the status of the Quimby fees - fees paid by developers of subdivisions and condo projects to purchase parkland - since no park land had ever been purchased anywhere in Los Angeles - much less in Downtown.
That started the long process that eventually ended up with the opening of the Spring Street Park this morning at 10 AM.
But even though some of us had pointedly asked for more grass than concrete and for one part of the park to have an example of the type of garden that once made Los Angeles famous - along with plants and a water feature that would lure birds and butterflies and dragon flies and water striders - and some pieces of the old granite and sandstone walls that still can be found in the area and a few transplanted older trees and shrubs which are being daily bulldozed in the Downtown LA area - we instead received a very contemporary - though very elegantly designed - park with many small formally designed garden beds each separated from the other along with large areas of attractively designed concrete paving, a small playground and a single grass mound surrounded by a concrete walkway.
It's all very attractive and beautifully designed but there is not one part of it that resembles either nature or the wonderful Victorian gardens that once filled that site. Nor are there there any of the old trees or shrubs or sandstone or granite walls or old brick and cobblestone pathways that could have so easily been incorporated into the park.
So even while it is is a wonderful park that will be well used by the neighborhood, those who first started the fight to being nature back to our neighborhood (none of whom were invited to the opening) still need to continue our quest to create a spot in our neighborhood where we can go and lie down on the grass and for just a moment feel as if we are at one with nature again, surrounded by birds and butterflies and dragon flies, and a few reminders of those who came before us.