By Florence Gharibian, Del Amo Action Committee
For as long as they could remember, the children passed the trees in wooden boxes in the alley. The tree in the middle was their favorite: the “Wishing Tree.” For years the children had been writing their wishes on little notes and putting them in the tree, hoping they would come true. More than ten years ago the trees were purchased in anticipation of the day the empty lot next to the children’s home would become a park. That was the children’s fondest wish.
But the nine-acre lot in an unincorporated county area near Alpine Village lay south of the Del Amo Superfund site, which was contaminated by waste from a synthetic rubber plant that operated between 1943 and 1972. The land was vacated when homes were torn down after property owners agreed to a buy out in the early 1990s. The Del Amo Action Committee (DAAC) fought hard to get a park that would benefit the community.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, four generations of the Medina family and other local residents celebrated the long awaited ground breaking. Savannah Medina, DAAC youth leader, spoke eloquently about the importance of the park to the community: ”We have been waiting a long time for this park! You paid for it, but this is our park!” She also told about impact the Superfund sites have had on her life and health. Cynthia Babich, founder and Executive Director of DAAC, spoke of the organization’s efforts to insure that the park would be a safe and healthy place for all community members to enjoy.
The three children who pinned their hopes on a tree danced in excitement when they heard the news that the park would soon be built. “By the spring of 2020,” the Daily Breeze reports, “the 8.5-acre Wishing Tree Park — with its planned 233 new trees, ball field, exercise equipment, basketball and futsal (a variation on soccer) courts and a half-mile of walking trails — will open near Del Amo Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.”