By Dennis J. Freeman
The Northeast Los Angeles Athletic Fields Alliance (NELAFA), a coalition of youth soccer and football groups, closed out July with a surge of public comment urging the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks to build two new multi-purpose playing fields at Rio de Los Angeles State Park in Cypress Park. The project, which would also include resurfacing the park’s existing soccer fields, is estimated to cost $6 million. NELAFA hopes much of that money will come from Prop. 68, a voter-approved measure from 2018 to help pay for park upgrades.
A deal may be shaping up. On July 10, an email to NELAFA from Bill Jones, chief management analyst for the parks department said that park staff was developing a plan for one large multi-purpose field and one new soccer field.
That’s only part of what NELAFA has asked for, but it is a step in the right direction, according to NELAFA co-founder Maricela Torres, the president of the Greater Northeast L.A. Bears Youth and Cheer. Torres told the Boulevard Sentinel that in meetings with park staff in the spring and summer, NELAFA supporters often felt that they were not being heard when they stressed the need for multi-purpose fields.
The staff for Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who represents Cypress Park, is also waiting to see what the parks department decides to do. “The department has not provided our office a summary of what was recommended and what the department believes would score the highest to receive an award from the state,” said a spokesperson for Cedillo.