In the midst of a pandemic, many of us have come to realize the importance of parks and our need for them. Not only do we need local parks in our immediate neighborhoods, we must also have larger, regional parks and open spaces. In this opinion piece, Joe Mathews tells us about the 1,500-acre Whittier Narrows Recreation Area located ten miles east of downtown Los Angeles, which offers a wide variety of recreational amenities. In his words, “Whittier Narrows is for everybody, all the time. You don’t have to make an appointment or wait in long lines to use it. You can get inoculated with whatever recreational medicine you prefer, from pedal-boating to BMX biking, fishing to frisbee golf.”
Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is one of 17 regional recreation parks identified in the 2016 Los Angeles Countywide Parks Needs Assessment. Regional recreation parks are defined as parks with an area of over 100 acres and contain active amenities such as athletic courts and fields, playgrounds, and swimming pools. Regional recreation parks draw users from an area much larger than a single neighborhood or community due to their large size and the types of recreation they offer. These parks are destinations for a regional population, drawing people from as far as 25 or more miles away. Residents living near a regional recreation park may use the park for their daily recreation needs, while park users from farther away may visit the park to meet more specialized recreation needs. Because of their size, use levels, and variety of amenities, maintenance and operation demands at these parks can differ significantly from those at local parks.