First published in the July 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
By Gavin J. Quinton
The Sustainability Commission recently got a first look at the visioning study for the much-talked-about Verdugo Wash linear park being proposed in Glendale.
The city’s Community Development Department presented its preliminary findings on the proposal at the commission’s meeting on Thursday, July 7. The visioning is the planning and research phase of the large-scale project that would reimagine the Verdugo Wash Tributary, a 9.4-mile concrete flood channel in Glendale, as a “linear park and nature trail for walking/cycling with access to business and entertainment venues … nature, people, places, and culture,” according to verdugowash.com.
“This is one of those visionary projects that I think many people in the community have long awaited for many years,” Commissioner Alek Bartrosouf said.
The wash begins near Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, arcs south through the Oakmont Country Club, Verdugo Woodlands, Glendale Community College and ultimately flows west into the Los Angeles River east of Griffith Park.
Early results from the study show how the wash path could be designed and cover potential applications for the space, as well as neighborhood and L.A. Metro bus rapid transit connectivity, potential points of access to the wash path, possibilities for educational experiences and public survey responses.
The visioning project draws design inspiration from similar projects such as the Atlanta Beltline and the Barn in West Sacramento.
One design concept presented by Assistant Director of Community Development Bradley Calvert would include a raised platform path for pedestrians within the wash basin, which would be surrounded by beds of vegetation. The height of the raised platform could be adjusted in residential areas to preserve privacy.
According to Calvert, the platforms are designed to be submerged in water during significant flood events.
“Basically what we like to compare this to is a glass of water and what we are trying to figure out is how much ice we can put in without causing water to spill out. This still has to function as a flood control channel,” Calvert said. “We cannot sacrifice that.”
Wider portions of the wash, like the segment around Oakmont Country Club, could feature parklike amenities such as benches and resting areas, while other portions of the wash could have play spaces for children.
Safety concerns were brought up during the report. Calvert discussed ways to slow down cyclists and methods to prevent users from climbing out of the wash into the surrounding areas. The segment around the Oakmont Country Club could feature an “overarching canopy” to serve this purpose, Calvert said.
The department reported that four out of five residents surveyed support a reimagined wash, but stipulate that residents are concerned with crime and homelessness, specifically in the northern portion. Calvert said that the northern area of the wash is less feasible for the scope of this project due to public pushback and a lack of commercial opportunities.
Patrick Murphy, a La Crescenta resident who lives along the wash, is the spokesman for a group of North Glendale residents called the Verdugo Wash Neighborhoods Coalition, whose purpose is to oppose development in the wash in portions north of Verdugo Park.
“This coalition is not opposed to a bike path on the wash where it is appropriate; however, we are categorically opposed to it in areas where it is not appropriate,” Murphy said.
VWNC is concerned about the potential crime, safety, fire and homelessness issues that could come with a bike path that connects the suburban portion of North Glendale to urban areas.
Murphy also said “one of the biggest issues that we had with the process was that the city was not conducting the appropriate outreach, meaning they were not doing any direct mail.” Murphy said the city has only reached out to homeowners’ associations for the project, not residents.
“So you could live in a neighborhood, not be a member of an association for whatever reason, and not learn of this situation,” he said.
Calvert said that a representative from the homeowners’ coordinating council sits on the stakeholders group for the Verdugo Wash Visioning.
“Being that this is kind of in those early stages, we are trying to find out what is possible,” Calvert said. “As we move into the next phases, we would start to set up additional groups to try to work out some additional details with those who own property directly along the wash.”
The city was just awarded $1 million in the state budget to proceed to the next stage of the visioning project, which would analyze the feasibility and environmental implications of the Verdugo Wash path.
The community development department anticipates bringing a finalized visioning report to the City Council in the late summer.