The Robert Gumbiner Park: City Moves Forward to Re-Name Former Armory Park

Armory Park—the project which will transform one of Long Beach’s most dangerous intersections into a park—transformed in another way: its namesake will no longer be.

Originally named for being near the Armory building to the west of Alamitos, Vice Mayor and mayoral candidate Robert Garcia proposed at last night’s City Council meeting to rename the park Robert Gumbiner Park. And the Council fully agreed.

Dr. Gumbiner is the man of Long Beach legend: a tireless advocate for the arts, he was the single thrust that made the vision of Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)—across Alamitos to the east of the park’s space—possible. Gumbiner not only scored a 20,000 sq. ft. roller rink but also a 10,000 sq. ft. former silent movie house, combining the massive space together to create what is now MOLAA.

His contribution? Nearly $40M through his foundation.

Additionally, he was a key cog in the creation of PieAM and happened to create one of the nation’s largest HMOs.

“Naming this park after someone who worked tirelessly to improve public health and the preservation of public art seems very appropriate” said Garcia. “Dr. Gumbiner created a landmark here in this city, and this new park adds to that legacy”.

Originally developed by Brian Ulaszewski from nonprofit design studio City Fabrick back in 2007, the newly minted Robert Gumbiner Park’s overall concept is simple: get rid of the trisection of 7th Street/MLK/Alamitos by stripping away car accessibility on MLK and replacing it with green space and enhanced accessibility to the area’s two museums, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and the Pacific Island Ethinic Art Museum (PieAM).

After years of ups and downs, the AECOM-designed project—largely funded through two non-local resources, Prop 84 funds and CalTrans grants—will provide roughly .85 acres of park space in dense residential neighborhood that is entirely devoid of any park space within a 1/2 mile radius.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.