On Monday, Nov. 9, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, and community leaders celebrated the reopening Monday of the transformed Maruta Gardner Playground at Bonita Cove. The playground has been named in honor of Gardner, a longtime Mission Beach community leader who was tragically struck and killed by an impaired driver four years ago while she was painting over graffiti.
The Bonita Cove playground replacement effort began as a private initiative launched by the Mission Beach Women’s Club and Gardner. Following the development of projects funded under the Mission Bay Park plan, this replacement project was folded into the larger one to incorporate both the Bonita Cove West comfort station and playground. When Gardner died, Faulconer pledged his support in naming the park in her honor.
"Maruta Gardner's impact on this community continues to be felt throughout Mission Beach and, by dedicating Maruta Gardner Park today, we recognize the positive impact she had trying to make this neighborhood a better place every day,” said Campbell.
The $3.4 million improvements to the park include the renovation of the half-acre playground, replacement of the comfort station, a new shade structure, enhanced security lighting, and sidewalk and pedestrian curb ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
“Maruta drove us all and renovating the Bonita Cove Playground was one of her last big passions,” said Nancie Geller and Cordelia Mendoza of the Mission Beach Women’s Club.
“She succeeded at getting all of our members of the Women’s Club and the City onboard with the project, and today we reopened the beautiful, new playground in her honor. We know that children and families will enjoy playing in this park next to the beach for generations to come.”
A former volunteer member of the City’s Park and Recreation Board, Faulconer pledged to build a new generation of parks in San Diego. The four pillars of his plan included improving the regional Mission Bay Park, opening 50 new or improved neighborhood parks in five years, partnering with the San Diego Unified School District to upgrade parks on school property, and producing a new master plan for San Diego’s park system for the first time in over 60 years.
“The importance of quality parks and recreational opportunities has never been clearer as San Diego families have taken advantage of them to stay fit mentally and physically during this global pandemic,” Faulconer said. “The upgrades in Bonita Cove hold special meaning, and we’re proud to name it after a beloved San Diegan who lost her life while trying to make her community a better place.”
MISSION BAY PARK
Mission Bay Park is the largest aquatic park of its kind in the country and consists of more than 4,235 acres in roughly equal parts land and water. In 2018, Faulconer announced over $40 million in projects planned for Mission Bay Park that are the direct result of two voter-approved ballot initiatives he helped craft to dedicate millions of dollars to improve regional parks. Then-Councilmember Faulconer helped author Proposition C in 2008 and later, as mayor, Measure J in 2016.
Over the next five years, the City will implement several projects for environmental protection and infrastructure upgrades to improve Mission Bay Park, including new and improved playgrounds, comfort stations, and other public amenities.
PARKS MASTER PLAN
For the first time in more than 60 years, the City of San Diego is creating a new master plan for San Diego’s parks system. The Parks Master Plan aligns parks planning with the City of San Diego’s vision to achieve the shared Citywide goals of sustainability and resilience, equity, livability, and connectivity. The development of the Parks Master Plan will help implement the Climate Action Plan by providing a framework for thriving public spaces to be enjoyed by residents and visitors throughout the city.
50 PARKS IN 5 YEARS
In 2016, Faulconer pledged to build 50 new and improved parks in five years. The City has broken ground or completed 47 parks so far with additional park projects currently in various stages of design or construction bid phases. The City also implemented reconstruction and replacement projects at 43 other neighborhood parks and recreation centers to upgrade lighting, pools, playground equipment, comfort stations, and sidewalk and curb ramps.
PLAY ALL DAY PARKS PROGRAM
The Play All Day Parks Program is an initiative put forth by Faulconer in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District to create new, shared recreational opportunities for San Diegans by designating school sites for community recreational use during non-school hours. Since 2016, the City and school district have opened 14 joint-use parks and have more than 30 additional sites in various stages of construction or planning phases.