If you work, play or live in the Silver Lake area you’ve probably had occasion to happen upon the Silver Lake Reservoir that residents have been making part of their jogging routines and early morning yoga sessions for quite a while.
You probably also noticed that it currently sits empty.
What you may not have heard of though is that plans are being proposed to reutrn the Silver Lake Reservoir’s former glory and transform it into 96-acres of nature-y goodness.
And when you see a mock-up design that looks like this (see image below) it’s hard not to get a bit intrigued.
First though, let’s give a little background.
The Great Drain
The Silver Lake Reservoir ended its tenure as a reservoir and source of drinking water back in 2014 when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has made its decision to empty the reservoir rather than tear up part of West Silver Lake Boulevard for its Lower Reach River Supply Conduit Project (which is replacing the reservoir with a new one north of Griffith Park that meets federal standards for drinking water).
The process took several weeks and the roughly 400 million gallons of water drained out of the reservoir was treated by “portable units” and returned to the drinking water supply for L.A.
The Replacement Reservoir
The LADWP broke ground on the Headworks Reservoir project back in 2012, kicking off a project that will place two subterranean concrete reservoirs holding a total of 110 million gallons of water and “a small hydroelectric power plant that is expected to generate enough electricity to pay for itself,” at the north end of Griffith Park, between Forest Lawn Drive and the LA River. The 43-acre Headworks project is part of LADWP’s efforts to stay in line with federal drinking water rules, which forbid untreated, uncovered open air reservoirs.
The full project is expected to be finished in 2017, after which the real fun begins.
What Do You Do With A Retired Reservoir?
The answer is, apparently, any number of things. There are several ideas being floated such as a plan to turn it into an esplanade, while another plan suggests trading in the chain fences and concrete for a more aesthetically pleasing beach complete with swim lanes.
The latest plan comes from a local group called Silver Laker Forward, that includes Landscape architect Mia Lehrer, singer-songwriter Moby as board members, and Puck Creative Group lead Robert Soderstrom as president of the organization.
SLF’s proposal includes a number of potential amenities for the park, including promenades, docks, walking paths and landscaping. Additionally, the group even proposes linking the reservoirs to the L.A. River through existing pipes, creating a a storage facility for storm runoff and recycled water.
The vision for the new park would be implemented over four stages:
Phase 1A: Enhance visitor experience to the existing Silver Lake Meadows through increasing shade, adding bathrooms, and implementing the original concept for the meadow. Estimated time frame: 3-6 months starting immediately.
Phase 1B: Increase public accessibility to the west side of the site through moving fencing, adding pathways, and limiting access during Great Blue Heron nesting season. Estimated time frame: 3-6 months starting after Phase 1A.
Phase 1C: Establish a Master Plan Committee to provide leadership on issues of governance, management, and strategy, with an aim to create a long-term plan on a range of key aspects of the park. Estimated time frame: 6-12 months starting immediately, concurrent with Phase 1A.
Phase 2: Implement plan from Phase 1C. Estimated time frame: 6-12 months
So What’s Next?
While SLF’s proposal has a big vision and some unique ideas, the biggest hurdle (as it usually is) would probably be regarding money.
No funding mechanism is currently in place for this plan, but according to Urbanize LA the organizers behind SLF are looking to create a parks assessment district which could provide ongoing support via a supplement to existing property taxes.
For those interested in finding out more about the issue and details on this particular plan we’ve included a few links so you can get familiar with more perspectives on the project:
- Swim Silver Lake
- Silver Lake Forward
- Silver Lake Reservoirs
- What Do We Do with The Silver Lake Reservoir (LA Times Op-Ed)
- Curbed LA’s coverage of Silver Lake Forward
And if you want to share your thoughts on this particular proposal, feel free to leave a comment below.