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Slowly but Surely, L.A. Reclaims Its River

The opening of a half-mile trail along the Los Angeles River, after a decade of funding and construction snags, marks the latest step in the city's effort to reclaim its forsaken river as a public resource.

Brittany Levine reports on the opening of the $2.1 million first phase of the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk project, which, in addition to the trail, includes horse facilities and park areas. The project is just a small part of what many hope will be a multi-billion dollar makeover of the river. Yet small steps like this may be essential to get residents and leaders on board with the ambitious idea that an oversized drainage ditch can be transformed into a recreational hub, ecological asset, and an engine for economic development.

"Along the trail, the sounds of the river mix with traffic whirring by along the 5 Freeway above. Interpretive signs and drought-resistant plants line the paved trail on both sides, yet graffiti remains under the overpass," observes Levine. "Despite the vandalism, the changes are a major upgrade, parkgoers said. Neighbors described the area before the new trail and park areas were installed as 'trash' and 'Godforsaken.' Now, they use words like 'beautiful' and 'magnificent.'"

"'From what it was, it's a huge improvement,' said Rachel Torres, a Glendale resident who was excited to walk her dog, Luke, near the river. When the third phase is complete, she envisioned taking the Great Dane/Shar-Pei mix over to Griffith Park."

"'It's really a battle to get on your bike in L.A.,' said Glendale resident Joan Hardie as she sat on her turquoise bicycle with a woven basket. 'It's nice to have a little oasis like this.'"

Full Story: First phase of Glendale Narrows Riverwalk opens

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