Cities often suffer from a lack of green space. Which is why it was so baffling to encounter a small park at the intersection of Bundy, Ohio Ave and Santa Monica Blvd that is completely gated off and closed to the public.
The City closed the park in the 90s because it was seen as unsafe. 25 years on, the park is still surrounded by a 6-foot high fence, effectively making it an inanimate, oversized terrarium. Peer through the steel bars, and you’ll see walnut trees and empty stone benches.
Recently, community members have petitioned to reopen it. One evening, we spotted a local karate school instructing students in the park. Perhaps they hopped the fence? At the same time that they were practicing martial arts, they were also participating in an ad hoc form of reverse eminent domain.
This triangular park is a missed opportunity that highlights the conflict between safety and practicality, what constitutes public and private, and how function can so easily succumb to symbol. The space has been reduced to an icon: park. It no longer participates in the life of the city and should be reimagined as a space that not only generates a notion of health and clean air, but also promotes culture and civic interaction.