Nestled at the foot of Saratoga Avenue, adjacent to the Ocean Beach lifeguard station, the new area is to take up a little more than 6 percent — 4,362 square feet — of the park’s 66,567-square-foot grassy area.
The park is to be named for OB teacher-historian Ruth Varney Held, who documented the history of Ocean Beach and is credited with being the founder of the Ocean Beach Historical Society. She was the author of “Beach Town: Early Days In Ocean Beach, To 1930.”
Design for the new park includes: swings, a rope climber and climbing mound, a spinning structure, terraced seating, a multifunctional mounded lawn, a decorative gravel edge, a fitness hub with stations, picnic tables, an art structure, shade trees, concrete crossings, flood control features and playground equipment for children ages 12 and under.
The park project is being shepherded by Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and improving OB’s unique character promoting sustainable practices.
Kicking off the workshop, Jane Gawronski, co-chair of an OBCDC committee promoting the project, said it is not a novel concept.
“Much to my surprise, I found a picture of a playground that used to be here in Ocean Beach in a recent book published about OB,” Gawronski said, noting a child in that photo, circa the 1920s, is Carol Hart Bowers of OBHS. “In the background is a swing set and slide. I thought we were inventing something new. Turns out, no.”
Peninsulan and former Council member Byron Wear facilitated two hour-long workshops July 26 where residents learned about the park and commented on it.
“The concept of a children’s playground and exercise facility is consistent with the approved Ocean Beach Community Plan,” said Wear. “We want to get input as to what it might look like. The OBCD’s intention for this project is to raise money for it from private sources.”
LdG Landscape Architects in Point Loma has been doing the preliminary design for the park based on feedback from public forums since 2016.
Wear said the next step in promoting the park is to vet the preliminary design shown at the workshop to other OB civic groups. “It will be a long process,” Wear added. “We’re going to go back to the drawing board and give [the design] some tweaks.”
Of the survey passed out at the July 26 workshop soliciting the views of attendees on the appropriateness of the park’s preliminary design, Sean King of LdG commented, “Anything that comes to mind — we’re willing and able to discuss.”
There is no timetable at present for the park project. However, public review, city permitting and fundraising to pay for it will likely take until sometime after 2020.
There are two other major community projects, a new lifeguard station replacing the aging existing structure, and a new veterans memorial, also being spearheaded by OBCDC, near proposed Ruth Varney Held Park.