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Ted Watkins Memorial Park in Watts reopens with $68M in renovations

July 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Crowds packed Ted Watkins Memorial Park in Watts on Saturday to look at a renovation they hope will make changes for the troubled neighborhood.

The reopening of the park at 103rd street and Central Avenue brought out hundreds to celebrate the 27-acre facility that once used to be dilapidated and dangerous.

A $6.8 million investment approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors not only brought in a new playground, picnic area and baseball field, but a sense of safety.

"All around you'll see a newly landscaped and expanded areas for recreational opportunity," said Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

The area around Ted Watkins Memorial Park has had a problem with crime. Just this year there have been three fatal shootings near the park. Officials say a partnership with the city Parks and Recreation Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has made Ted Watkins Memorial and parks all around the county safer.

The park now has programs like free computer classes and a teen club. During the summer, the Parks After Dark program allows the lights to stay on so families can enjoy the park into the evenings.

Residents who have lived in the neighborhood for decades say a safe, clean park has been long overdue for their community.

"It didn't look as clean," said Anitra Harris of Compton. "Many of the slides and the activities for the young people were broken."

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