Our parks need good neighbors too

Albert Guerra
Long Beach Park and Recreation Commissioner

The little orphaned, homeless and nameless park mentioned in “Thoughts from the Publisher” in last week’s Signal Tribune was put in by the City of Long Beach as part of a new bicycle path and green belt space called the P & E Right-of-Way Park. The new park is composed of two sections. The first section, which was shown in the photograph printed in that issue, is located between Martin L. King Jr. Avenue and Lemon Avenue, and the second section, when completed, will be between Orange Avenue and Walnut Avenue.
As a park commissioner for what we often say is the “best park system in the country,” it pains me to see what happens when something in one of our parks goes wrong. The vandalism to this small park is an example of what happens when a park opens without full partnership of all of the various offices, departments, agencies, community groups and neighbors working together to make it a success.
Since opening the park in June, the park department has had the following problems with the location:

• Over 150 (and counting) sprinkler heads have been stolen or broken at the location. Crews have had to be on site almost every day since June to repair or replace the sprinkler heads.
• Park benches have had graffiti removed at least once a week, with four complete bench repaints. The most recent repaints were last Friday morning. Unfortunately, the paint was not even dry before the benches were tagged that same night, requiring another full repaint.
• The lighting in the park has been a challenge for various reasons. However, we may have worked out a solution with the manufacturer that may have resolved the issue.
These are just a few of the challenges that this park is having. But it seems obvious to me that the community needs to work together to find a way to overcome the few people that are ruining it for the others.
Here are just a few suggestions:
Clean up the alley next to the park. Let’s find a way to get some funding directed to a new paved alley. The current state makes the beautiful park hard to get to and hard to see.
Clean up the wash behind the park. I don’t even want to guess what is living or possibly not living in that wash. It looks as if it has not been cleaned in a very long time. I am told that the drainage is maintained by the LA County Flood Control District, and I am not sure how often they come out to check it, but it’s definitely not enough. Let’s hold a waterway clean-up.
Develop a park watch program with the local community. I saw several apartment buildings that face the park, along with a large Cambodian community center/temple next to the park. Perhaps they want to adopt the park.
Hold a grand-opening event in conjunction with the 6th Council District Office– Dee Andrews. Perhaps a community that celebrates together may work together to keep it clean and safe. A soft opening, in my opinion, does not help garner ownership.
I will continue to provide updates as new information is available. Perhaps someday soon we can add this park to the growing list of “true” community parks in our city.

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