The long wait for Buena Vista Park to re-open is just about over.
The oldest park in Santa Maria will officially open back up to the public on Saturday, August 11.
“It’s super exciting because my daughter has been staring at the park for quite some time now saying, when can we go mom, when can we go, so it’s exciting that it’s opening right around the corner,” said Lynette Ramos, who lives close to the park.
The 112-year old park closed in September 2016 to make way for much needed renovations.
“Through the years, it’s gone through renovation after renovation, but it was just time for a whole new park renovation” said Dennis Smitherman, Santa Maria Management Analyst. “What we’ve worked on since summer of 2016 is just starting over again and create a park that’s modern, yet still relevant to the history of the park.”
Smitherman added the park modernization included public outreach, with input sought from community members so there would be a collaboration between the City and local stakeholders.
“This is a really impacted part of our city in this neighborhood,” said Smitherman. We worked with different community groups and gone out to public comment and given the community a real opportunity to participate in the design of this park, so we think we’ve done a great job in incorporating new play structures and open spaces and picnic areas for the whole community to enjoy.”
A drive by the park that’s located on the corner of Morrison Avenue and Pine Street reveals a completely transformed four-acre space.
“We went down to the studs as they would say,” said Smitherman. “We were able to create a blank canvas, keep some of the historical trees and plant a lot of new ones and also create some areas in the park that this community really needs for this neighborhood and as a city as a whole.”
New features at the park include a large grassy area, two play structures, gardens, walkways, basketball and tether ball courts and an open space that will hold future community events.
“We’re delighted to see the park open for the neighbors,” said Virginia Souza, Buena Vista Beautifiers. “It’s a densely populated neighborhood and this park is their backyard, so after two summers of being closed, we’re incredibly excited for the park to be reopened.”
Souza has volunteered with the grassroots community organization for several years. Its purpose to help support and assist the City of Santa Maria with the maintenance of the historical park.
“We like the park to be as active as possible and uplift the neighborhood,” Souza said. “We’re standing by ready to assist in any way once the park is open to help and assist in any way we can.”
Souza stressed the importance of having the park re-open in what is a dense urban setting in the surrounding area.
“The need is to have some beauty,” said Souza. “Where there’s density and great deal of overcrowding, to see some natural beauty. We’ve all been knowing I think the healing value of being on grass, under trees, around natural beauty.”
The $1.4 million project was funding primarily through Community Development Block Grants.
For neighbors, like Ramos, it is money well spent.
“I think it will be a good addition,” said Ramos. “There’s a lot of people that live in this area. The high school is right here. There are other families are on that side. It’s right in the middle of town, so I’m pretty a lot of people are going to come to this park. It’s going to get a lot of action.”
To help commemorate the completion of construction, Santa Maria will hold a dedication and grand re-opening celebration on Saturday, August 11.
“It’s a big party,” said Smitherman. “We’re going to start our ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m. and then our festivities will kick off at about noon, so we welcome everyone to participate and be here that day for the grand opening.”
The event will include a family-friendly festival and resource fair. There will also be free food and refreshments will be provided while supplies lasts.
For more information, visit the City of Santa Maria website.