Press Release

Friday, July 15, 2005

Contact: Michael Bustamante (916) 425-0839
Antonio Gonzalez (323) 222-2217

For Maps of the Cornfield Area, visit WCVI's Community Development Section

Community Alliance Raises $1 Million for L.A.’S Historic "Cornfield" Site; Open Space Area Planned for Community Use

LOS ANGELES, CA – Following months of behind the scenes negotiations with California State Parks officials and others over the future of Los Angeles’ historic Cornfield State Park site, a diverse alliance including the Anahuak Youth Soccer Association, the Center for Law in the Public Interest, Madres de la Tierra, Remapping-L.A., and the William C. Velasquez Institute announced today they raised $1,000,000 to enhance development of the historic ‘Cornfield’ site. The funds will be used to promote community participation in the planning process of the park, underwrite additional park development, and create interpretive elements at the Park and surrounding sites.

“Our effort was successful because the Latino community organized around the need to protect open space and provide for a much needed park,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute. “The Latino leadership supports environmental protection and historic preservation issues.”

In addition to the $1 million raised, the Alliance also announced that State Parks and Ms. Lauren Annenberg Bon, who proposed to use a portion of the Cornfield for an art exhibit, has agreed to modify her Not A Cornfield project to include about 8 acres of open green space, a walking and jogging path around the entire site, $200,000 in grants for enhancing community participation in planning the future of the Park, and release of final detailed plans for the project. The alliance will continue to work with Ms. Bon and State Parks to ensure that the Not a Cornfield project is consistent with the adopted plan and the recommendations of the Cornfield State Park Advisory Committee, and the community has the opportunity to tell the history of the people and place.

“Our collective effort focused on the needs of the Latino immigrant community and our childrens ability to have a place to play and enjoy the wonders of nature,” said Irma Muñoz, founder and president of Madres de la Tierra. “The Latino immigrant community has found its voice and it will no longer be quiet about issues that effect their neighborhoods, their environment and, above all else, their children.”

“This is a good example of what can happen when one defends the rights of the community and democratic values with heartfelt passion,” concluded Raul Macias, president and founder of the Anahuak Youth Soccer Association."

In addition to securing the funds, the alliance has also secured access to a historic warehouse building across the street from the Park to be used for programs, exhibitions, and events. These activities will help provide a comprehensive understanding of the rich history of the people and place around the Park, and stimulate dialogue about the future of the communities along the Los Angeles River.

“As a result of the alliance's work defending the interests of the community, a formidable cultural group is coming together”, said Fabian Wagmister, a professor at UCLA and director of Remapping-LA. “These artists and intellectuals will work to enable a far-reaching 'Interpretative Framework' to allow the community to explore and express its history, struggles and aspirations using traditional arts and new technologies."

"The Cornfield area is the Ellis Island of Los Angeles. We look forward to a world class park that revives the forgotten history of L.A. and provides the benefits of urban parks for all the people," said Robert García, Executive Director of the Center for Law in the Public Interest.

As the result of years of community activism, the State of California purchased the 32 acre parcel known as the “Cornfield” rail yards in north-downtown Los Angeles to create an urban state park. The Legislature also established the Cornfield State Park Advisory Committee to assist State Parks to plan for interim and permanent land uses and facilities for the Park site. Concerns of the public arose when State Parks issued a permit in April 2005 to Ms. Bon and the Annenberg Foundation to allow the use of the Park site for the Not a Cornfield project without adequate community participation.

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