In its previous life, the Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia was a pebble quarry. It wasn’t pretty or inviting, but it served its industrial purpose. Today, the landscape is much different — it’s a beautiful, thriving green space in an area that is seriously lacking.
“Nationally, you look for five to 10 acres of park space per 1,000 people,” said Claire Robinson of Amigos de los Rios, a nonprofit coordinating a restoration project at the park. “In this area, we have between .2 and .3 acres per 1,000 people.”
Amigos de los Rios started restoring the park in 2008 and it has been at it ever since, with constant help from community volunteers, including many from Edison International and Southern California Edison. Recently, more than 100 Edison employee and family member volunteers spent their Saturday planting nearly 300 shrubs and trees in the park as part of the company’s Season of Service — one of more than 20 events planned this year to support local charities.
Volunteering with local charities is a weekly activity for many Edison employees, who collectively logged more than 143,000 hours in their communities last year. The volunteers also presented a $5,000 grant to the nonprofit.
“Giving back is really part of who we are and what we do at Edison,” said Doug Bauder, SCE’s vice president of Operational Services, who volunteered with his team. “We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it, and people will be able to enjoy this park for generations to come.”
Restoring Peck Road Water Conservation Park is part of Amigos de los Rios’ larger plan to create an “emerald necklace” that connects the hillsides in Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean with greenway, providing desperately needed recreational areas for communities suffering from extreme density, urban decay and the social and health issues they bring.
“The tree canopy we’re bolstering with Edison is going to provide clean air and greenhouse gas reduction, plus restored habitat for local birds,” said Robinson.
Amigos de los Rios’ plan for everyone to have access to green space was inspired by the 1929 Olmsted Bartholomew Plan, designed for the L.A. area by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, who was best known for designing New York City’s Central Park. Sadly, due to changing government priorities during the 1930s depression, the original plan was never realized.
More than 80 years later, things are back on track and the emerald necklace is bringing healthy land, native bird species and cleaner air right along with it.
“It’s important to plant trees because look, trees give us air and without air we can’t survive,” said 9-year-old Pratush, who volunteered with his dad, Prashant Agrawal, an SCE senior manager.