Do you believe in Magic? Recently, Supervisor Mark-Ridley-Thomas, in collaboration with the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation and a number community partners, hosted a socially-distanced, sneak peek of Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park’s new building facilities and myriad of amenities followed by a back-to-school drive tour of the park.
“What you see before you represents the dreams and vision of many members of this community,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Now more than ever, our communities deserve investments in our public spaces to make them centers for gathering, learning and respite. Magic Johnson Park has experienced a true transformation. My sincere appreciation goes out to all of the partners who have played an indispensable role in the revitalization and rebirth of this par
The $70 million project, the largest park investment by LA County in recent history, features improvements that include a 20,000 square foot event center to host conferences and other large gatherings, a dedicated outdoor wedding pavilion, a splash pad, children’s play areas, and a completely redesigned southern lake which has a half-mile walking trail, enhanced lighting, fitness equipment and other amenities.
The park also has an innovative water system to address water conservation and quality. Under the new system, water will be diverted from nearby Compton Creek, cleaned, and then used to fill the lower lake and irrigate the park—creating a wetland experience for park-goers. Overall, 30 acres of the park have been improved.
“Today, you can stand here and feel good for the Willow brook community, because we have our superhero, our superman, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. A lot of the time, this community gets promised a lot of things, but nobody delivers. He promised this community that he was going to change this park and take it to another level. Well, just look behind me, it’s here,” said Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the park’s namesake.
“This building will be a blessing to the community. Our kids will now have a place that they can go and learn, not just in school but after school. Children in this community will have a safe place to play and have a good time, said Johnson.”
In addition to the sneak peek, the Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hosted a back-to-school drive, in an effort to provide the surrounding communities with resources during this difficult moment. During the back-to-school drive, 2,500 community members were gifted with fresh, organic produce; dry food items; backpacks; school supplies; sports paraphernalia and art kits as they toured the park’s improvements.
Partners in this event included the Special Needs Network, the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers, Let’s Be Whole and LA’s wide professional sports network—which include the LA Lakers, LA Rams, LA Dodgers Foundation, LA Football Club, and Play Equity—LACMA, Health Net, Blue Shield of CA, Molina Healthcare, Kilroy Realty Corporation, the California Community Foundation, The Olson Company, Anthem Blue Cross, LA Care Health Plan, and UCLA Health.
“While this pandemic may have forced us to showcase this park in a different way, I am thrilled that the South Los Angeles Community had the opportunity to see the transformation first-hand from the safety and comfort of their cars.” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Magic Johnson is a leader and visionary for our community like no other – and we are so pleased that all of the sport teams that he is involved with, came together to celebrate this day with the Willowbrook community. This collaboration truly embodies the best of Los Angeles’ civic spirit.”
“Every year, Special Needs Network has an opportunity to bring thousands of kids and families together for a fun-filled day with live entertainment, outdoor activities and lots of healthy food at our annual back to school event. Each kid has an opportunity to get a fresh haircut and go home with a backpack filled with school supplies. With the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions on large gatherings, we had to be creative this year about how we could serve our community and comply with the CDC coronavirus safety guidelines. At a time when the needs of our community are greater than ever, we knew that we couldn’t abandon the event,” said Founder and President of the Special Needs Network Areva Martin, Founder and President, Special Needs Network.
Guests also had the opportunity to take pictures of their favorite life-size characters, such as Disney’s Princess Tiana, Marvel’s Black Panther, Universal’s Minions, as well as LAFC’s Falcon, and the LA Rams’ Rampage, and tour the new facility all from the safety and comfort of their own vehicles.
Last month, the County initiated the second phase of $10 million-dollar improvements. The 16 acres, formerly known as the Ujima Village site, will be improved with a large outdoor open space, amphitheater, play mounds, a native butterfly garden, a fitness loop/walking path and off-leash dog park. The second phase of improvements are anticipated to be complete in 2021.
The new park amenities are expected to officially open in November with COVID-19 compliant community programming.