At an elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the opening of downtown Los Angeles' long-awaited Grand Park, city and county officials repeatedly stressed the 12-acre site will welcome everybody.
There's even a giant sign in multiple languages at the 12-acre Civic Center space touting the site as "Grand Park: the park for everyone."
"We have a created a much-needed amenity: green space amidst downtown that is undergoing its own renaissance. And we are proud to say that we have a role in this rebirth," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who helped lead the effort to renovate and recreate the park.
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"We will ensure that Grand Park becomes a multipurpose, multicultural destination for all Angelenos enjoy," Molina added. "We aim to please every single Angeleno."
It remains to be seen whether the $56 million privately funded Grand Park will end up being a site for protesters from the Occupy LA movement, whose encampment at City Hall Park in fall destroyed the lawn. After it was closed for several months, fences remain around that park so that it can now be closed at night.
City and county officials promised that the park would be open to political action, though some cautioned there will be security on site.
"Rules will be posted and people will have to adhere to them," said City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who was on the joint powers authority with Molina that oversaw the park construction.
"It's a public space and people are allowed to exercise their rights to the First Amendment in a public space, and that will be respected," Perry added.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky won't be surprised if the park becomes a site for political protest, but he said the nature of the space might sway park-goers to more modest pursuits.
"When you walk through here, it's going to be hard to do anything but celebrate it," Yaroslavsky said.
The $56 million renovation was funded by Related Cos., a private development company that plans to break ground later this year on a neighboring 19-floor, 271-unit apartment building.
Construction on the park began two years ago.
Grand Park is part of the larger Grand Avenue Project, a $3 billion Frank Gehry-designed tower with a boutique hotel, condos, shopping and a movie theater.
The project, proposed a decade ago, has been delayed because of a lack of financing.
The park crosses four blocks between First and Temple streets from Grand Avenue to Hill Street (map). It will link City Hall to the Department of Water and Power Building with a performance lawn, a restored historic fountain, a café, walking paths and gardens.
The site features bright pops of color: hot-pink metal benches and chairs are dotted through the space.
At a ceremony that featured multicultural dancers and performers, county supervisors and other officials sat on a raised platform in the middle of a large "membrane pool" designed to bring children and downtown parkgoers to splash and play in its 1/4-inch of water.
Billionaire Eli Broad, who is building a contemporary art museum nearby, and Yaroslavsky walked around barefoot in the pool, their trousers dragging in the water.
"I'm ruining a perfectly good $98 suit," Yaroslavsky joked.
Half of the four-block park opened Thursday, with the rest of it expected to be complete in fall. Public programming at the park is set to begin this weekend with dance and music events on Saturday and Sunday.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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