Sixty years ago, Los Angeles County made a decision that seemed practical at the time: it carved a 1.5 mile stretch of space out of the Ballona Wetlands in an effort to control water flow. Today, this area is known as Marina del Rey, and it is has been getting a great deal of attention as it transforms from a utilitarian basin into a public park.
The History of Marina Del Rey
Prior to becoming the affluent seaside community that it is today, the land that is now Marina del Rey was a salt-marsh fed by Ballona Creek. At the time, the area was considered to be mud flats and was frequented mostly by duck hunters. In 1888, the Ballona Development Company began developing the area, but soon went bankrupt before the vision was complete. The area received the name of Del Rey in the early 1900’s after it was purchased by Moses Sherman. At this time, it served as a port serviced by the California Central Railway.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers briefly considered transforming the area into a commercial harbor in 1916, but later deemed the move to be impractical. The concept was revisited twenty years later, but failed to receive the funding necessary to move forward with development. It wasn’t until 1953 that the process of transforming the land into a marina officially began. After the area underwent extensive storm damage, a plan was put into place to build a breakwater at the mouth of the marina. Finally, on April 10, 1965, Marina del Rey was officially dedicated at a total cost of $36.25 million. Today, the marina is the largest man-made small craft harbor in the world and has a total capacity of 5,300 boats.
Giving the Marina a Facelift
Marina del Rey is already an attractive part of Los Angeles County, but that doesn’t mean the area cannot be further improved upon. While the basin that was cut out served a useful purpose, visionaries are also seeing how the area can add even more beauty. As such, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has started to work on a series of improvements to the area. Not only will these improvements help to make it more functional, but it will also add to the aesthetic beauty while getting more use out of the space.
Named the Oxford Basin Multiuse Enhancement project, the development has a budget of $14.5 million. When complete, the project is expected to enhance flood protection, improve the ecosystem of the facility and reduce pollution from storm water. This will be accomplished in part by removing sediment from the basin while also adding native landscaping and a circulation berm. Ultimately, the goal is to create a habitat that is similar to the Ballona Freshwater Lagoon located two miles to the south near Playa Vista.
To further create a park-like setting, plans involve constructing new recreation and safety amenities around the basin’s perimeter. Among these features will be improved landscaping, a walking path, observation areas and educational signs. Improved fencing and lighting will also be added.
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(all data current as of 6/22/2017)
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