Bixby Park likely to get new basketball court, splash pad, other amenities with $850K in state funding

Bixby Park is set to receive $850,000 worth of capital improvements, which could include a community center modernization, a splash pad, a basketball court and updated exercise equipment, city officials announced this week.

The funding, secured by California Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, is from the state budget, which was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in June. O’Donnell presented Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilwoman Cindy Allen and Parks Recreation and Marine Department Director Brent Dennis with an oversized check at the park Thursday afternoon.

“Parks help make life better,” Dennis said during Thursday’s event. “Quality-of-life issues really attract and retain people in a community and Bixby Park is really a heartbeat.”

Projects could include improvements to the community center’s HVAC system, roof, plumbing and restrooms as well as the bandshell amphitheater area, which may get new technology, a computer lab and 3D Design Center, according to Allen’s office. Six outdoor workout stations also could be updated as part of the project.

During his comments at the park, O’Donnell noted that the state budget includes $10 million for Long Beach park improvements. He added that the Bixby Park funding was made possible through the continued efforts of the community group Friends of Bixby Park and his communication with Allen, who championed the funding opportunity.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, left, and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell look on as Second District Councilwoman Cindy Allen jumps up and down during a press event Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, mimicking what she said was her reaction to O’Donnell’s news that Bixby Park would receive $850,000 for improvements. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

“I was so excited when I got that call from [O’Donnell],” Allen said, jumping up and down. “I knew how much we could do with that money. I still have a big ol’ smile on my face.”

Allen’s office announced the Bixby Park funding Wednesday, the same day state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon presented a $1.5 million check for a new playground at Ramona Park in North Long Beach and exactly three months after the playground at Admiral Kidd Park burned to the ground. The playground, which is in Councilman Roberto Uranga’s 7th District, hasn’t been replaced yet.

The West Long Beach playground opened in 2011 as part of a park-extension project, marking the last investment in the park. The nonprofit group Partners of Parks launched a fundraising campaign in September with a goal of raising $1 million by Dec. 1, but it’s unclear if they’ve reached that goal yet. The organization and Uranga’s office did not immediately respond to requests for an update on their effort.

A variety of playground equipment sits under suns, fenced off, at Admiral Kidd Park in West Long Beach on Thursday, July 29, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

The $850,000 for Bixby Park is in addition to the nearly $1 million of investment it’s gotten since 2017.

In November 2017, residents and city officials celebrated the grand opening of the Bixby Dog Park on the corner of Broadway and Cherry Avenue. The project cost $100,000 and, being on the border of the 2nd and 3rd districts, the cost was shared between Councilwoman Suzie Price and then-Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce.

An additional $877,350 of Measure A funding has been invested in Bixby Park since the measure was approved by voters in 2016. The most expensive project was upgrades to the community center, including ADA accessibility, infrastructure quality and enhanced usability and “useful life” to the tune of $527,350.

Also completed in 2017 were the Camp Bixby playground and a walking path that connects the six workout stations set for upgrades with the new funding.

The park also had a $350,000 investment for improvements to a seating area, including ADA improvements, a community gathering area and enhanced beauty. The project was completed in November 2020.

“The future of Bixby Park really is brighter,” Dennis said, “because of the investment that Assemblymember O’Donnell has helped bring.”

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