Artist Robert Rossoff lays a flat bed of river rock in the soon to be completed Glendale Narrows Riverwalk Park by the L.A. River in August.

Artist Robert Rossoff lays a flat bed of river rock in the soon to be completed Glendale Narrows Riverwalk Park by the L.A. River in August. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / November 23, 2012)

It's official. The first phase of the long-awaited Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, which has been beset by delays, is set to open to the public on Dec. 12.

Discussed for the past decade, the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk has been hit by a number of roadblocks, including a state funding freeze, construction delays and coordination of approvals with other public agencies that have jurisdiction within the project area.

The first of what is slated to be three phases, the $1.7-million project includes trails, a park area and an art display featuring sandblasted images of wildlife for the walk that starts near Bette Davis Park and runs along the Glendale side of the Los Angeles River for about a half-mile.

“When Riverwalk is finished, the city of Glendale will be the only city on the entire 52 miles of the Los Angeles River to devote 100% of its river frontage to recreation,” said Marc Stirdivant, senior administrative analyst, at a Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission meeting this week.

The first section had been scheduled to open in September, but that was pushed to October. Bicyclists, pedestrians and horseback riders will have to wait just a bit longer to use the Riverwalk.

A special ceremony marking the opening has been planned for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 12.

The two remaining phases of the overall project do not yet have completion dates or full funding.

But planning work on the next step, which includes a $475,000 trail bridge over a storm drain near DreamWorks Animation at Flower Street, is already underway. The 150-foot bridge will continue the bike and pedestrian pathway to the Verdugo Wash.

The riverwalk “will be a significant part of the ongoing regional effort to reclaim the natural beauty of the river that has been lost for decades to urbanization,” Stirdivant said.

For years now, river advocates have been working to increase recreational use of the waterway, including kayaking trips during the summer near the Sepulveda Basin. Plans to run kayaking trips through the Glendale Narrows next summer are also underway.

A proposed bridge to Griffith Park — the final phase of the Glendale riverwalk project — is still a ways off, with officials continuing to work on the design and cost estimates.

The riverwalk project has been covered mostly by state grants and money from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

“To actually see Phase 1 is going to be so exciting,” said parks commission President Laurel Patric.

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