Shady spots to sit, structures mimicking rock jetties with built-in fog misters and a tot sand play area are part of a proposed design intended to make the new Ramona Park playground feel like a day at the beach.
The project, funded by a $1.5 million state grant and $250,000 from voter-approved Measure A, could start construction this fall and open by early next year, according to city officials.
The plans were shared with residents Thursday at the park’s community center. Most seemed enthusiastic about the design, which would allow children ages 2 to 12 with different ability levels to climb, swing, slide and make musical sounds. Picnic tables, colorful Adirondack chairs and a scattering of sea creatures (including “Wally the whale” poking up his head and tail for kids to climb on) are also in the plans.
City officials also talked about the 25-yard outdoor swimming pool proposed for the park, though they stressed several times that they don’t yet have a way to pay for it; according to earlier city figures, it could cost up to $10 million.
To some, the park’s proposed glow-up is overdue.
“Finally, it’s coming to fruition,” said Eileen Oien, who has lived in the area for 49 years. “This park, our neighborhood has been asking for an upgrade for 15 or more years.”
Jessie Marquez, a three-year resident who was carrying her drowsy infant daughter, loved the “under the sea” theme and said the renovation is “very welcomed.” But she and other parents would like some kind of fencing around the play area to keep smaller children from dashing off into the street.
Residents also had other suggestions for the park and questions about the proposed swimming pool. City officials had asked for feedback, and they got plenty.
Would the pool be heated? Could it be indoor instead of outdoor? Would it displace the park’s tennis or basketball courts? Would Long Beach residents pay less to swim than people from neighboring cities, since they are charged more to use those cities’ pools?
Several comments were about maintenance and safety problems with the existing park bathrooms. “It won’t be a successful park if kids can’t use the restroom,” one woman told city officials.
Parks, Recreation and Marine Director Brent Dennis said his department is focusing on making parks cleaner and safer, and he encouraged people to contact the city when they see something of concern.
Improvements including more durable materials and fixtures and some self-locking restrooms will soon be rolled out at selected parks across the city, and the Police Department will be putting more emphasis on enforcing park closing times, Dennis said.
More information on the Ramona Park playground project can be found here.