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Atwater Village's L.A. River Pathway Is Getting A Sweet Makeover

The LA River near Atwater Village (Photo by Atwater Village via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Before Frank Gehry and co. get started on their U.S. Army Corps of Engineer-approved, $1.35 billion plan for the L.A. River, residents of Atwater Village will attempt to rehab their own four-mile section.

Earlier this year, the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council applied for a grant through the National Park Service that would assist in the creation of a continuous path along the L.A. River. But more recently, the L.A. City Council approved a motion proposed by Councilman Mitch O'Farrell to apply for a $500,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, reports The Eastsider. The money would be used for financing a one-mile section of this side of the river, with the hope of accruing more funding for the remaining three miles.

The motion's cited design plans include a repaved asphalt trail, on-site water conservation and recycling tools, original art, and a "living habitat wall" that will visually interpret the history of the river. There will also be some demolition done to existing structures along the path; the materials that remain will be repurposed during the new construction.

Karen Barnett, chair of the neighborhood council’s River Committee, told The Eastsider that there will not only be bureaucratic hurdles, but physical ones, too; the addition of crosswalks and an underpass at the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge might be necessary to keep up with the planned continuity of the path.

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Compared to the west side of this section of the river, which swoops through Silver Lake and the Elysian Valley and is a popular recreational spot for pedestrians and cyclists, the east side has long been ignored; its shoddy, unmarked asphalt service road is wracked by illegal dumping and graffiti.

As the L.A. Weekly reported this week, the debate has been raging between groups like Friends of the L.A. River and the Ghery-ites over how to treat the river's makeover. And while the improvements to the path in Atwater Village are independent of the city's official plan, it'll be interesting to see if reactions to this micro-rehab of the river mirror the larger debate.

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