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Rail yard along LA River may become city's next park

Southern Pacific Taylor Yard as seen from the Golden State Freeway in the 1980s.
Southern Pacific Taylor Yard as seen from the Golden State Freeway in the 1980s.
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A former rail yard along the Los Angeles River may become the city's next park.  The city plans to buy the land using up to $26 million dollars in clean water bond funds from Proposition O, which voters approved in 2004.  The 44-acre site is near Cypress Park.

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The parcel is contaminated from years of industrial uses going back to 1893. Union Pacific Railroad cleaned and repaired trains there until the site was abandoned in the mid-80s.  The head of an advocacy group called The River Project says the state should be trying to buy the property, not the city of L.A.

"You really want someone with statewide interests and with the ability to negotiate with them from that perspective," said  Melanie Winter, director of the River Project .

Winter said the state has more experience negotiating with the railroad, and can get a better price. Other parts of Taylor Yard were sold to California and transformed into Rio de Los Angeles state park.

"This is a key piece of property and we shouldn't be paying any more for it than we need to," she said.

Lewis MacAdams, president of Friends of the L.A. River said he wants the land to ultimately become a park run by the state. "They're a natural choice, but I ultimately don't think it matters. The point is to get the land into public hands, and to be able to restore and maintain it," he said.

Acquisition of Taylor Yard's 44-acre parcel, known as G-2 was added into the project budget in 2007, with a City Council-approved land purchase budget $25 million and an expected overall project cost of $78 million. By 2009, the land acquisition budget had been chopped in half, to $12.4 million.

This year, the administrative committee overseeing spending of the Prop O bond funds authorized the $26 million figure to buy the land.

Aaron Hunt, spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad Co., said "We have not put a value on it. It has been on the market for some time."