Children test out the new Clippers-donated playground after its grand opening. Photos by Sarah Bennett

One of North Long Beach’s neediest parks unveiled a slew of revitalized amenities last week with the grand opening of Coolidge Park’s rebuilt playground, resurfaced basketball court and brand new exercise stations.

Clippers players Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley and Blake Griffin were on hand to celebrate the new facilities, which are meant to provide neighborhood children with a healthy, safe place to exercise and play.

“This transformation reflects the spirit of what we are calling the Uptown Renaissance,” said 9th District Councilmember Steve Neal. “It’s all part of our efforts to revitalize our parks and open spaces in North Long Beach.”

The upgrades are the result of the City’s ongoing partnership with the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation, which officials say donated around $100,000 to build the new Clippers-colored playground and replace the flooring, poles and backboards on the park’s two basketball courts.

coolidgepark2Coolidge Park is also benefitting from a $30,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente’s “Heal Zone” initiative, which went towards the construction of a Fitness Zone featuring apparatuses for step-up, sit-up and pull-up exercises as well as plastic equipment for leg presses, chest presses and a swinging cardio walker.

Kaiser’s Heal Zone lists North Long Beach as a target area and grants are administered by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services and the Coalition for a Healthy North Long Beach.

“Having the Heal Zone grant allows us to leverage funding with organizations like the Clippers,” says 9th District Chief of Staff Rex Richardson. “City staff is so great at identifying funding sources for us. It’s just awesome how this all came together.”

The Clippers’ FIT Campus Playground & Court Refurbishment Program is funded through a partnership with the California Endowment, which has a ‘Health Happens Here’ campaign and a ten-year initiative for Building Healthy Communities that also has listed Long Beach as a focus city.

Donations include planning, labor, materials and equipment for new playgrounds and basketball courts in East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles and Long Beach, the latter of which is Clippers Team President Andy Roeser’s hometown.

coolidgepark1Last year, the Clippers and the California Endowment renovated Ernest McBride Sr. Park in Long Beach.

“We started redeveloping courts 20 years ago to help provide safe places for kids to exercise and play,” Roeser said. “We’ve seen a need to continue to improve those places and are proud to have the California Endowment as a partner.”

Despite the major transformation unveiled at Coolidge Park last week, there is even more to come. 9th District infrastructure funds are currently being used to develop a dog park on the north side of the park. Officials say it should be opening in the next two weeks. 

Coolidge Park is located at 352 E Neece St.

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