On Jan. 20, Ocean Beach residents joined District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox in cutting the ribbon marking completion of the first phase of the new Ocean Beach Gateway Park, the culmination of 15 years of fundraising and planning by local leaders and the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation (OBCDC).
It’s not a bad look for a once-threadbare tract of land sitting between two main thoroughfares and one that once acted as an outdoor waste disposal as a result.
“The North Ocean Beach Gateway Park project has turned what has been a vacant lot for many years into a magnificent entryway to the community of Ocean Beach,” Cox said in a statement. “Where weeds once sprouted, community pride now blossoms.”
The project site is located at the corner of Sunset Cliffs and West Point Loma boulevards, Ocean Beach’s northernmost point. Ocean Beach, a community of about 28,000 residents, also lies at the estuary of the San Diego River.
The OBCDC has been spearheading the effort since 1997, raising $130,000 in private donations for the first phase. The San Diego Foundation donated an additional $100,000, with $30,000 coming from individuals through memorial brick and tile sales. Faulconer and Cox authorized a series of project grants through their respective offices that were earmarked to create parkland and enhance older communities. The city oversaw the design and construction and will maintain the park.
Ann Kelsey, an OBCDC board member, said the project would not have been possible without the scores of residents who believed in this project, along with past and current volunteers and the OBCDC members who never gave up.
The park’s first phase includes a new public plaza, featuring a nautical design theme and a People’s Wall that highlights Ocean Beach’s unique community character. It features memorial bricks and tiles, shade trees, bike racks, a water fountain, sidewalk and crosswalk improvements and greenery. It overlooks Robb Athletic Field, which stands between it and the San Diego River.
“We went to the public and asked their opinion,” Kelsey said of the design concept. “We wanted it to look like Ocean Beach, to really look not industrial. We wanted vegetation that was easy to irrigate and maintain. We wanted bike racks and a drinking fountain and a little doggy water bowl, just like the one at Dog Beach. Those things are very OB.
“The neon signs, like you see in North Park and Hillcrest and Normal Heights, are great for those communities, but a neon sign is really not Ocean Beach,” she said.
Phase Two of the park will feature the completion of the 12,900-square-foot project, connecting the plaza to Robb Athletic Field via a pathway and installing landscaping and a retaining wall spotlighting artwork.
The costs for the second phase are yet to be determined amid city development block grant guideline changes. The price tag has been projected to range between $260,000 and $390,000.
No construction timeline has been set for the second phase.