A view of the veteran memorial. Photo credit: Waltarrrrr
At the intersection of York Boulevard and North Figueroa Street in Highland Park sits a triangular parcel of land known as the Highland Park veteran memorial. Unfortunately, because the memorial is relatively small and flanked speeding traffic on all sides it can be an unpleasant place to spend time.
However, it seems things could perhaps change for the better. The veteran memorial recently became property of the Department of Recreation and Parks and there is talk that the veteran memorial public space may be expanded by possibly converting the adjacent right turning pocket or parking lot into an extension of the memorial space.
The intersection of York Boulevard and North Figueroa Street. The triangular veteran memorial space could be expanded by converting the right turn pocket and/or adjacent parking lot into parks pace. Image credit: Google Maps
Admittedly, converting a small parking lot or a right turn pocket into an extension of the public space may seem like a small gain, or perhaps even insignificant. To put things in perspective I decided to use a Google Map Area Calculator so I could see, in acres, how much the public space could be expanded. I found that the veteran memorial space is currently about 0.2 acres large, so how much bigger could the space get if we expanded it?
If we only converted the adjacent right turning pocket we would double the size of veteran memorial space, adding 0.2 acres of public space to this prominent intersection. If we converted the right turn pocket and half the adjacent parking lot into an extension of the space, we would be adding about 0.7 acres of public space. And if we converted the right turn pocket and almost the entire parking lot we could provide an entire acre to the existing 0.2 acre veteran memorial. Suddenly, it seems there is huge potential to enhancing the existing memorial which often is seen as little more than a traffic island due to its placement with high speed traffic on all sides.
If the veteran memorial were expanded to include the green shape seen in this image, we could have a 1.2 acre large public space where Highland Park’s two most prominent streets cross and have a space that truly honors veterans. Image credit: Google Maps
Expanding the veteran memorial would not only enhance the memorial space but it would also serve to connect that public space with the near by Highland Park Senior Center. In essence, an extension would almost form one large, continuous public pedestrian space well over an acre that is friendly and serves the Highland Park community. Perhaps the city could try the expansion temporarily by blocking off the right turning pocket or reduce the number of parking spaces available in the adjacent parking lot as though it were a construction zone and see how traffic adjusts. Highland Park has a unique opportunity here to beautify and enhance the public sphere, maybe that can prevail over funneling traffic at excess speeds.