The grass is dead and most of the east side of the park is fenced off. Pacoima residents may have noticed many sections of Ritchie Valens Park have been closed all summer long while it underwent a $700,000 renovation. The renovation, funded by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, is going to save 5 million gallons of water per year with the installation of a smart irrigation system, according to Recreation and Parks Landscape Architect Tom Gibson. This new system includes all new sprinkler heads and controllers that analyze weather data to determine when to water the turf or not, like when it rains. Brand new main, lateral, and irrigation water lines have also been updated to the new technology.
The renovation has been completed and the project is now in its maintenance period, meaning everything has been going as planned. The turf now needs 49 days to germinate and grow. The park should be completely restored and open late December or early January.
The irrigation renovation was the largest of the DWP’s water conservation projects. Ritchie Valens Park was selected because of it’s necessity to use lots of water being in the hot San Fernando Valley, and, according to Senior Park Maintenance Supervisor Jeremy Thomas, the old system was inadequate The old sprinkler heads used too many gallons of water, there were a lot of breaks, and the infrastructure was basically failing, he said.
The renovation also reduced turf by 20 percent, mostly where people don’t really hang out or picnic, such as along the freeway, near the skate plaza, around the tennis courts, and the turf islands in the parking lot. Gibson
acknowledged that 20 percent of turf reduction is a lot but said, ‘The park will still look very green and attractive.”
Aside from the irrigation upgrade, the soccer fields have also been improved with removal of rocks that were found throughout the fields. No trees in the park were removed.
All other facilities in the the park- gymnasium, tennis courts, skate plaza, and basketball courts- will continue to remain open. The end is so near you can almost smell the fresh new grass, perfect for those brisk Pacoima winters!