As part of the First Fridays art walk in Bixby Knolls on Aug. 3, outside The Factory restaurant on Atlantic Avenue, 7th District Councilmember James Johnson announced the name for the future 47-acre park that would be the largest in Long Beach since 1952. After collecting name ideas for nearly two months, Johnson announced that Willow Springs Park will be the name that he will recommend to the Parks and Recreation Commission for approval.
“One-hundred thirty years after buying this property, the time has come to finally begin opening it as a public park,” Johnson said. “This park, which has been the site of so many proposed development schemes over those 130 years, is possible because of the passion of so many residents who know its importance to both the history and the future of Long Beach. Those same people overwhelmingly chose the name ‘Willow Springs Park.’”
Johnson said that people had been calling his office all week asking for the name and that most of his own staff didn’t even know the selection, which he had kept under tight wraps. “People were really intrigued. Everyone I ran into over the past several days wanted to know,” Johnson said. “Even moments before the announcement, I was receiving suggestions for the name, including such humorous ideas as Knolls Ranger Park and Park Pantry.” The event also included a series of displays set up on the sidewalk with maps, pictures, and infographics that are being used in the Master Planning process that is currently underway.
Willow Springs Park began as Long Beach’s original water source in 1882 and has long been known for the willow trees that are plentiful on the property. These characteristics led to the the naming of Willow and Spring streets adjacent to the property.
When finally complete, Willow Springs Park will be the largest park ever built in Long Beach west of Redondo Avenue, and the largest park built in the city since El Dorado Park in 1952.
According to Johnson, open space acres have long been lacking in west, central and north Long Beach, which has approximately one-tenth of the open space in east Long Beach. “Since 1882, all of our large parks in Long Beach have had one thing in common– they’re in the eastern part of our city,” Johnson said. “We will finally be bringing a regional park for the rest of Long Beach and beyond, with hiking trails, wetlands, sweeping vistas and more.”
Though the larger 47-acre site will take many years to complete as grant funds are identified, the first four acres will formally open on Nov. 1. Those four acres make up the highest accessible point in Long Beach and offer panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles Basin. Monthly tours of the entire 47-acre site are run by volunteers, on the third Saturday of every month at 10am, meeting at 2745 Orange Ave.
To learn more about the tours, the park site, or to join the Master Planning process currently underway, visit JamesJohnsonLB.com/CAGardens or call (562) 570-7777.
Source: Johnson’s office
Photo by Diana Lejins