The Westside is asking the city to finish what it started: a walking path at Hudson Park

Last summer, a walking group petitioned the city to complete a sidewalk at their neighborhood park in West Long Beach. When signatures didn’t garner the results they hoped for, they launched an extensive campaign this February to flood their representative’s office with postcards and emails.

Community members want the city to complete a walkway at Hudson Park that currently forces pedestrians into dangerous situations when they are led into a parking lot and road before they can resume on a designated path once again.

“Someone has to put cement here,” said longtime Westside resident Ester Balanga.

Balanga has had close encounters with vehicles while walking the route, including one instance a few years ago she was walking at the park with her brother, who was visiting from out of town.

“We were walking and talking and all of a sudden a car is approaching us,” Balanga recalled. “The minute he stepped on the curb he fell face down and had some abrasions on his hands.”

Balanga is a regular walker and a member of the Filipino Migrant Center’s walking group which, up until recently, has been gathering every Saturday morning at Hudson Park since 2014.

The group of over a dozen people mostly comprises Filipino senior citizens. They dance to music, stretch and then hit the walking path.

It was during one of those walks in 2017 that the group noticed the park’s walking path was never finished.

“Basically people are dodging cars,” said the center’s youth organizer Alex Montances, who is leading organizing efforts.

In June 2018, the group gathered over 150 signatures urging the city to finish paving the sidewalk and turned them over to 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga, who represents part of West Long Beach.

When the group noticed nothing was being done they decided to launch a campaign in February and renew pressure on social media and through emails and postcards addressed to Uranga.

Lately, the group has been walking at Admiral Kidd Park just a few blocks away, but in early May they gathered at Hudson Park during a meeting to bring awareness to the campaign and gather support from other neighborhood organizations, including fraternities from Cal State Long Beach.

One of the members of the walking club that day had her grandchild with her and noted the level of difficulty she had lifting the stroller onto the grass when a vehicle passed by on the road.

Others mentioned seeing students use the pathway and road for physical education classes.

The park is located at 2335 Webster Ave. It borders the Terminal Island Freeway used by port truck drivers to the west, Elizabeth Hudson Elementary School to the north and Cabrillo High School’s stadium and gym to the south.

“It’s dangerous for seniors, families and students,” said fellow youth organizer Jedi Jimenez during the meeting.

Filipino Migrant Center youth organizer Alex Montances speaks about a campaign to finish a sidewalk at Hudson Park on Saturday, May 11, 2019. The Center’s walking group, which includes senior citizens, is forced to decide between walking on a road or uneven grass leading to unsafe conditions. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

This time around, the group may be able to see action from the city—though no details have been shared yet.

In a statement this week, Uranga acknowledged and thanked the community’s efforts in seeing the project completed.

“This park improvement has been a long time in the making and I’m hopeful that we can make this a reality for the West Long Beach community,” Uranga said.

The Public Works project team has been working with contractors and designers to develop financial feasible options to present to the community, said Executive Assistant Jennifer Carey.

“We are hopeful that we will have some options to present to them in the coming weeks,” Carey said.

Meanwhile the group plans to continue their campaign to make the park safer for everyone.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.