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On-Call Technical Assistance Success Stories

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre

When the Lula Washington Dance Theater purchased a property for the new location of their Dance Theater and Studio, they knew that the property had been used to store and repair vehicles. The location was perfect but addressing contamination on the site posed financial challenges.

The Theater is a project of the Lula Washington Contemporary Dance Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Lula and Erwin Washington to provide a creative outlet for minority dance artists in South Los Angeles. The Foundation seeks to build bridges between people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds through its inter-related parts: the professional Dance Company (Lula Washington Dance Theatre), the Youth Dance Ensemble, and the Dance Studio.
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The Foundation sought assistance from the City’s Brownfields Program in addressing contamination at the site and a collaborative relationship has continued over several years. Brownfields staff advised approaches to applying for a US EPA Brownfields grant and the Brownfields Program supported the application as a partner. When the Dance Theater received a $200,000 Brownfields Assessment grant from the US EPA, Brownfields Program staff assisted in supervising the contractors who performed the site assessment and the remediation activities that followed.
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ARTScorpsLA, near downtown Los Angeles, is another example of the LASAN Brownfields Program providing on-call technical assistance to a non-profit community organization. ARTScorpsLA is an artist collective that organizes community, youth and families to transform inner-city dump sites into oasis of green space through celebrations of art, environmental and educational programs and conducts a variety of art-centered projects in low-income neighborhoods of Los Angeles. They create parks and other spaces where families and youth can come together for celebrations, art classes and other cultural experiences. They also work with other community organizations to address issues such as health, tenant rights, immigration, environmental rights, and domestic and gang violence. Their plans to develop a low-income housing project were delayed due to possible contamination on their property. The Brownfields Program provided a Phase II site assessment and assisted in identifying funds for cleanup.
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For several years now, ARTScorpsLA has been developing three small adjacent brownfields properties (21,000 square feet in all) near Downtown Los Angeles. The vacant properties were a magnet for illegal dumping. Over a period of ten years, ARTScorpsLA has developed the Spiralling Orchards Park where they hold celebrations and after school and summer classes for students. Their next project will be a community center building.

They also plan to construct a low-income housing project on a section of the property that has contamination issues. The entire property is located within the former Los Angeles oil field that had hundreds of oil wells until the early 1900s. The ARTScorpsLA property had three inactive oil wells and an above ground crude oil storage tank which have now been removed. The Brownfields Program has assisted by conducting Phase I and Phase II environmental investigations.
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