A long-awaited expansion of Davenport Park in North Long Beach could begin as soon as April after the City Council voted Tuesday night to award a construction contract for the development of the western portion of the site the city purchased in 2006.

The site had served as a landfill until 1947 and was originally developed in part to offset the loss of park space at Scherer Park when the Long Beach Police Department’s North Division building was built. The park located at Paramount Boulevard and East 55th Way was named for former LBPD corporal Ed “Pops” Davenport, who served the department for 40 years.

A total of about 6 acres will be added to the existing 5.5-acre Davenport Park with the new improvements including a dual-sport field that will be marked for soccer and football, walking paths, picnic areas and fitness stations, according to the city.

“This represents a big victory for North Long Beach, a big victory for efforts to improve park equity and expand green space in our city,” said Councilmember Al Austin, who represents the area.

Public Works Director Eric Lopez said Tuesday that the city could begin construction on the park expansion as soon as next month, with work expected to be completed before the summer of 2024.

A rendering of the proposed $9.6 million improvements that are scheduled to start at Davenport Park in North Long Beach as soon as April 2023. Photo courtesy city of Long Beach

Crews are wrapping up the first phase of the project, which included the installation of a landfill gas control system and a treatment unit to manage the landfill that lies beneath the site.

Lopez said that portion of the work is expected to conclude next month, and then crews could begin work on demolishing the western portion of the park to prepare it for the new development.

“This is truly transformation,” Lopez told the council Tuesday. “This is going to allow us to bring green space to a part of our city that is in need of it.”

The contract approved by the council Tuesday is for up to $9.6 million with several funds supporting the project. It includes about $1.7 million from Measure A tax revenue and $2.1 million from fees the city charges to developers for new construction.

The city is dedicating $3.5 million from the five-year infrastructure investment plan it approved last fall for the project, and a California land and water conservation grant is contributing roughly $2 million, a figure that the city expects to grow in the coming months.

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