Trail along San Gabriel River gets $4.3M in state funding

California legislators’ vote to approve the state’s budget Monday night could send millions of dollars to Long Beach for a host of future open space development and improvements to existing park space.

Some of the projects identified in an announcement from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell’s office Tuesday are upgrades to the El Dorado Regional Park’s softball and baseball fields ($1.2 million) and improvements at Bixby Park ($850,000) that could include modernizing the community center and the addition of a splash pad, basketball court, updated exercise equipment and accessible water fountains.

O’Donnell’s office said that $4.3 million in funding was secured for a recently proposed walking path along the San Gabriel River that could run from Carson Street south to Atherton Street.

The $262.6 billion state budget spending plan, if signed by the governor, begins July 1.

“Parks, trails and open space are vital to maintaining one’s overall health and wellbeing,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “Whether it’s playing baseball in a park, taking a stroll on a summer day, or exercising on a trail, I know how important recreational opportunities are for residents and families.”

The 3-mile walking path project was proposed by councilmembers Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo Flanigan, who represent two of the three districts that run along the river.

The councilwomen said that they hoped with the help of state funding the area along the bank of the San Gabriel, which is mostly vacant but dotted with tree farms, could be transformed into a passive walking space that could provide a safer alternative for pedestrians who are currently forced to use the river’s narrow bike path.

Another $3.3 million is being distributed to the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy for green space along the Los Angeles River.

In April the City Council voted to approve a storage facility along the Los Angeles River over the objections of community groups who said the site was supposed to be turned into green space to link other elements of the city’s River Link Plan.

The city identified 11 acres of land adjacent to the approved storage facility for potential future green space but said it could cost as much as $27.5 million to redevelop the land. The price of acquiring the land was not disclosed and it’s unclear if the $3.3 million will go toward funding that purchase or go to other projects along the LA River.

Other park funding that was included in the preliminary deal struck by state lawmakers includes an $8.5 million grant that the City Council approved an application for in March. The money is expected to go toward the revitalization of MacArthur Park in Central Long Beach.

While legislators voted Monday to approve the outline of the budget plan more budget allocations are likely to happen over the next few months with areas of spending including wildfire prevention, drought and climate change still not resolved.

Editors note: The story has been updated with more information about the planned updates to Bixby Park. 

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.