What We’re Doing
Partnered closely with a historically underfunded neighborhood to create a new park that represents the community’s character, culture, needs, and wants.
Ensure all residents of Los Angeles have equitable access to safe, climate-smart parks and green spaces within a 10-minute walk of home.
For decades, a 1.13-acre vacant lot in Watts laid neglected, overgrown with weeds and strewn with garbage. It conveyed a narrative about the community that long-time residents and community leaders like Ronald “Kartoon” Antwine refused to accept.
While attending a city council meeting, Antwine learned about plans for a housing development. Little better, in his eyes, than the empty lot, the property had potential to be and do so much more for the Watts community. Antwine stepped in and began to voice what the community truly desired—a park.
The Watts community wanted a safe, open space of their own. A place where children and their parents could grow, connect, and thrive while enjoying fresh air and nature. After the city council meeting, Antwine took matters into his own hands.
“I started by going down the street, telling as many people as would listen about what I had heard at the neighborhood council,” he says. “That touched a lot of nerves because the neighborhood has always wanted this lot taken care of. I went and got a Spanish translator to include the Hispanic community. I went to the biggest church in our neighborhood and acquired a meeting place. I went all the way to city hall to tell them that nobody wants more houses here.”
Antwine met TPL Los Angeles Program Director Tori Kjer while she was posting flyers in the neighborhood about TPL’s work. Antwine shared his vision with Kjer, and before long, TPL joined Antwine in his quest. Trust for Public Land purchased the land, and that was just the beginning.
Partnering closely with Antwine and others, we engaged and supported the community throughout the entire project. The predominantly Black community was all too familiar with social and environmental injustices that had historically left them out of decisions affecting their neighborhood, and TPL’s commitment to community-led visioning was paramount.
We sought buy-in from the local community during the planning process. Workshops allowed residents to suggest special features and refine their input into concepts for the entire park.
Watts Serenity Park, which opened in 2015, features play equipment for kids, a Fitness Zone® exercise area for adults, and a skate park. The park might cover just over one acre, but its impact is expansive: it empowers and enriches the entire community.
The backbone of the Watts Serenity Park includes a partnership between a strong, close-knit community and Trust for Public Land. This partnership transformed a 50-year-old vacant property
riddled with illegal activity into a serene space for the neighborhood to enjoy.
2009 – TPL begins outreach in the community to develop Watts Serenity Park.
2010 – TPL successfully secures almost $5 million for the acquisition and development of Watts Serenity Park.
2011 – TPL purchases the vacant land at 11300 Monitor Avenue and gives it to the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
2014 – TPL begins construction on the park.
2015 – Watts Serenity Park is open to the community.
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