Still short on funding, city may fill budget gap to replace burned Admiral Kidd Park playground

Long Beach officials say that if a local nonprofit is unable to raise enough money to replace a destroyed playground at Admiral Kidd Park, the City Council might have to vote on finding money to fill the gap.

After a fire burned the West Long Beach playground in July, Partners of Parks, an organization that supports the city’s parks, recreation and marine programs, launched a donation drive in September. They set a goal of raising $1 million because the cost of rebuilding is between $750,000 and $1 million.

They hoped to reach that goal by Dec. 1, but as of Tuesday, city staff said that Partners of Parks had raised only $340,000.

A rendering of the new Admiral Kidd Park that was displayed during a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Partners of Parks executive director Trinka Rowsell said her organization has set a new goal: raising $500,000 by January 2022. This will allow the city to “order the playground equipment and continue fundraising for the rest,” Rowsell said.

While the playground was insured, the city’s deductible cost is greater than the cost of the playground, which is why the fundraising is necessary.

Because the fire burned down the playground in the summer, there was no direct allocation from the city budget to fund a replacement, said Joy Contreras, spokeswoman for the Long Beach Department of Public Works.

However, the city’s Budget Oversight Committee did flag the replacement of Admiral Kidd Park’s playground as a “high priority” project on which the city should consider using the surplus from sources including the city’s general fund budget, Measure A, and a special advertising and the promotions fund, according to committee meeting minutes.

A fire damaged a playground at Admiral Kidd Park in West Long Beach in July. Photo courtesy of Irving Flores.

Measure A is a sales tax that funds public infrastructure. It’s been used for parks projects throughout Long Beach, including $1 million for the Los Cerritos Park playground and $1.7 million for the Recreation Park playground. However, Measure A funds have so far not been designated to replace the Admiral Kidd playground, Contreras said. The replacement project could be eligible for Measure A funds, but the city still hasn’t decided if it will pursue that route, she added.

“The City is exploring all eligible options available as part of the annual capital budgeting process,” Contreras said. “Once determined, funding will then be appropriated in 2022 pending City Council approval.”

Regardless of the funding route, the City Council would need to vote to approve filling the funding gap next year unless donors suddenly provide enough to meet the goal.

Recently, Marathon Petroleum Foundation, the largest donor, has pledged $250,000; the Long Beach Economic Partnership and Newell Family Foundation are each donating $25,000; the Miller Foundation added $5,000, and Partners of Parks has pledged $10,000, the Press-Telegram reported.

Here’s what could replace the burned-out playground at Admiral Kidd Park

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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