A long-planned revitalization of MacArthur Park in Central Long Beach took an important step forward Tuesday night when the City Council approved a contract for construction of improvements expected to start this year.

MacArthur Park, at the corner of Anaheim Street and Gundry Avenue in the city’s Cambodia Town area, is slated to get improvements that will include Southeast Asian elements.

The new playground will use safety surfacing in place of sand as well as wheelchair-accessible playground equipment. The safety surface will be themed with a “Cambodian riverine landscape” according to renderings shown to the council Tuesday night.

Two animal sculptures, an Irrawaddy Dolphin, a freshwater dolphin that can be found in the Mekong River that runs through Cambodia, and a baby Asian Elephant will also be installed at the park. Shade structures in the playground area and over a community picnic area will also reflect Southeast Asian architecture.

The northern end of the park will be regraded and have a new lawn installed to create a multi-purpose field that will include a walking loop and fitness stations. A new basketball court and fencing around the court are also part of the planned improvements.

Long Beach got the bulk of the project budget ($10.5 million) from the state, which sent $8.5 million to the city to help improve the park in 2021. The remaining $2 million will be split between county funds and the city’s “Elevate 28” budget, which was rolled out last summer and outlined over $200 million in projects the city hopes to complete ahead of the 2028 Olympics.

The roughly four-acre MacArthur Park was dedicated in 1943 and includes a community center, a theater and an art gallery. Here’s what the park could look like after construction is completed:

A rendering shows a view of the middle of the planned playground at MacArthur Park. Photo courtesy the city of Long Beach.
A rendering shows children under the “thatch hut” structures that will provide shade in the playground area. Photo courtesy the city of Long Beach.
A rendering shows a portion of the new walking loop and the Southeast Asian-inspired picnic patio coverings. Photo courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.