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Impact Of '50 Parks' Plan On Villaraigosa's Legacy Still Unclear

LOS ANGELES ( — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in downtown Los Angeles Monday to tout what his administration considered to be one of his major accomplishments while in office.

KNX 1070's Ed Mertz reports Villaraigosa announced the opening of Spring Street Park as part of the mayor's 50 Park Initiative.

Impact Of '50 Parks' Plan On Villaraigosa's Legacy Still Unclear

Spring Street Park is the sixteenth park to open under the plan, which Villaraigosa launched in August of 2012 to take underutilized properties — many left blighted from the housing crisis— and turn them into neighborhood parks.

The park, which was designed by Lehrer Architects, is situated on .7 acres of land and features walking paths, an open lawn, seating, children's play elements, native landscaping, and a "smart irrigation" system.

Villaraigosa was joined by Councilmember Jose Huizar to also announce the purchase of a lot from the state of California on the corner of 1st Street and Broadway, which will serve as the future site of the Civic Center Park.

In June 2013, the City purchased the Civic Center lot from the state for $7.5 million with funding sources that include zone change fees and interest, and the Department of Recreation and Parks capital park development funds.

Upon first announcing the 50 Parks Initiative back in November 2011, Villaraigosa recalled growing up in City Terrace and playing on hills that have since been converted into industrial areas.

But with less than two weeks before his successor Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti takes over, it remains unclear how much the success of the 50 Parks Initiative will contribute to Villaraigosa's legacy.

Steve Soboroff, chairman of Parks Save L.A. and a former mayoral candidate, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the mayor's apparent zeal for self-promotion could be seen as overshadowing his accomplishments as mayor.

Parks Save L.A.'s Steve Soboroff

"I always thought he did a good job; I thought the problem was that he was telling people he did a good job instead of letting people find out for themselves," Soboroff said.

Soboroff cited transportation development and the expanded use of bicycle lanes citywide as two of Villaraigosa's most notable achievements.

While many nearby residents were quick to embrace Spring Street Park, David Fields with St. Vincent DePaul said he hoped visitors would come despite the presence of Skid Row just a couple of blocks east of the park.

"It may kinda compel some people to maybe wanna come this way," Fields said.

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