Los Angeles is home to many small urban neighborhoods. As many were constructed prior to the 1960's, homes may fall into abandonment, causing unsightly or potentially hazardous situations for residents. Abandoned home sites can attract vandals, homeless, and squatters, can be used as "stash houses" for illicit drug activity, and may invite intentional damage that can accelerate deterioration. Los Angeles has creatively addressed this issue, while providing neighborhood residents with active options for leisure engagement, by creating small "lot" parks in many of these homesites. As part of the city's 50 Parks Initiative, these parks provide opportunities for play, exercise, and enjoying of green space within close proximity to home. McKinley Park, a small Outdoor Adult Fitness Park located in the heart of an urban settlement, is one such success story.
"Outdoor fitness equipment provides an important healthy alternative for engaging families into park systems. They provide additional opportunities for socialization or watching your kids play on an adjacent playground while you get a great work out. It is a valuable free resource provided by many Recreation and Parks Departments for exercising and they provide a step in the right direction for combating health issues facing many of our communities," commented Michael Shull, General Manager for Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
To determine where to locate new lot parks, the city evaluates neighborhoods to identify potential locations, then meets with neighbors and hosts community meetings to ascertain their interest in a park and seek their design input. "If the community is not enthusiastic, we move on," stated Shull.
McKinley Park was the result of neighbors expressing an interest in exercise options for adults. The small park is completely dedicated to fitness, with several pieces of equipment configured to provide a total body workout. The park opens at sunrise and closes at dusk, working residents often exercise in the morning before departing for their jobs, while stay at home parents or retired neighbors utilize the Outdoor Adult Fitness Park throughout the day. The gate is automated, with a recorded announcement to help residents know when it's time to leave. This automation, utilized at many of the neighborhood "lot" parks, helps city staff lower cost of maintenance by not having to open and lock the park in person. The pocket park also includes seating, a drinking fountain, and trash receptacles.
Drive through the neighborhood around McKinley Park and you will notice the postitive effect the Outdoor Adult Fitness Park has had, not just on the health of residents, but in their pride of place. Freshly painted homes, neatly clipped yards, and fresh plantings all attest to the delight and satisfaction that having their very own outdoor space to exercise has given the residents. Instead of an overgrown lot or abandoned house, the neighborhood has a sparkling gym of their own to use.