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Santa Barbara - South County

Support growing to designate Ortega Park as Chicano cultural heritage park

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The quest to save the Ortega Park murals from demolition ahead of the City of Santa Barbara's planned $14 million renewal project reached a new level Tuesday night. However, no final decision was made.

Jill Zachary, Parks and Recreation Director, said there is new momentum by the city council and many members of the public to recognize the Eastside park as culturally significant, a Chicano heritage cultural park.

Campesinos by 1979 by Armando Vallejo and Manuel Unzueta (KEYT)

"Now is the time to make a more permanent recommendation," said Zachary. "Now is the time to make Ortega Park part of the community fabric."

The mural project started back in 1979. Zachary said many of the original muralists are now in the loop and eight of those artists are OK with repairing or recreating their artwork or painting something new. There is also strong support to continue a legacy of mentoring youth artists with future projects.

Ortega Park redesign rendering (City of Santa Barbara)

Staff recommended pursuing ways to keep the current bathroom structure that stands as the canvas for several murals by renowned local artist, Manuel Unzueta.

But is it feasible?

Many of the park's structures painted with murals date back to the 1950s and are aging.

Overall, staff recommended renovating Ortega Park while developing a mural plan through the formation of a committee that will work with the City's Arts Advisory Committee.

The status of the grant application process and a June 12 deadline is unclear at this point.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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