People walked their dogs, couples went out for an evening stroll and runners sped down the walking trail at the long-awaited Wrigley Greenbelt on Wednesday evening.
“It’s good, we like it,” said Cynthia Lopez, 30, who said she just moved in near the greenbelt. “We really like it because we can go through the backyard and just go for a run.”
Footprints, paw prints and horseshoe prints engraved the 1-mile stretch of land that sits adjacent to the 710 Freeway and Los Angeles River. The $2.6 million project stretches along DeForest Avenue from 26th Way to 34th Street, and it’s been highly-anticipated for over a decade.
While the local community has been able to use the greenbelt since last month, the site officially opens this Friday, May 19, with a grand opening event scheduled at 1 p.m. at 26th Street and DeForest Avenue.
Last year, Wrigley residents said they felt “overlooked and ignored” after numerous delays and blown deadlines set the project back from when the Wrigley Greenbelt Master Plan was first introduced in 1993.
Residents complained of dust accumulating in their homes as construction took place, though they were cautiously optimistic that city officials would meet their projected completion date last year.
Initial outreach for the project began in 2007, and the earliest projected completion date for the project was December 2009. However, a lack of funding, expiring permits and grants, and criticism from residents about the city’s plans to remove dead and rotting trees from the site posed significant threats to the project, which pushed most recent estimated completion date to Dec. 31, 2022.
Work finally wrapped up in late March of this year, and the park opened for public use last month. Now, the community will finally get to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting.
The greenbelt will add much needed green space to a park-starved area and will “improve air quality and encourage outdoor and recreational activities,” according to the city.
It features a walking trail, drought resistant native plants, and a new irrigation system as well as benches, picnic tables and water fountains.
Walking down the path as the sun was setting Wednesday evening, Long Beach residents David and Blanca, who requested not to use their last names, said they are happy to see the added green space in their community but hope that the city will keep up with maintaining the site.
“It’s good and it’s bad,” said David.
The pair said they’ve been walking the trail since it’s been completed and have already seen trash littered along the path.
“They just need to maintain it,” he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information on the timeline of the project.