Located at the west end of Saratoga Avenue, adjacent to the lifeguard station parking lot, the area known as Saratoga Park is the largest public park in the community.
“Unlike many of the other San Diego beach communities, Ocean Beach doesn’t have a place at the beach for little children to play,” said Tom Perrotti, president of the OBCDC. “People have children and grandchildren and we need a safe place for them to congregate on the beach and experience the joy.”
Perotti said that a children’s park and adult fitness station would enhance the quality of life for OB residents, and attract more families and tourists to the area – a benefit for the entire community.
He added that the project has the support of several local community groups, including the OB Community Foundation, OB Lifeguards and Firefighters, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, the planning board and Ocean Beach Town Council.
Currently, the OBCDC is raising funds to pay for site survey, design and permitting costs associated with constructing the children’s play area and adult fitness area on the site of Ocean Beach Park.
According to Jane Gawronski, co-chairperson on the OBCDC committee formed to establish the children’s park, $10,000 has been raised and a contract awarded to LdG Landscape Architects in Point Loma for a preliminary design based on feedback from public forums.
“I support honoring this park for Ruth Varney Held and creating an inviting place for children and families to enjoy Ocean Beach,” said District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf.
In December, Zapf presented a Community Projects, Programs and Services (CPPS) funding grant of $2,500 for the endeavor.
“In a coastal environment like the one we have, we need a place for children to play,” said former District 2 Councilman Byron Wear. “It’s not going to take up the entire park, and there will be plenty of green space and room for passive parking.”
According to Gawronski, Wear was among the earliest supporters to push for a children’s park named after Held.
Pat James, vice president of the Ocean Beach Historical Society, called Held a revered educator, historian and citizen of the Peninsula who should be honored for her many contributions to the community.
“It's a brilliant idea – Ruth Varney Held documented the history of Ocean Beach. She was admired as an educator and citizen of the community. Ruth and her book were an important foundation for those of us who were at the first meeting to form the OBHS in 1994,” James said.
Credited with being the founder of the OBHS, Held was well known as the author of “Beach Town: Early Days In Ocean Beach, To 1930.” First published in 1975, the book became a popular resource about the history of Ocean Beach.
According to various sources, Held’s family moved to OB from Montana in 1912 when she was 6 years old. She attended Ocean Beach Elementary School, graduated from Point Loma High School and received a teaching degree from State College, which is now San Diego State University. She then taught typing at Point Loma High School for 30 years and called OB home for 84 years until her death.
“Grandparents and parents love to experience watching kids do activities on swings, or any sort of children’s play area. They exude joy and that permeates into everything. Children will feel safe. It's going to be a fabulous place,” Gawronski said.
More information on the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation can be found at www.obcdc.org or by calling 619-787-1073.