Ishihara Park

Santa Monica will celebrate Parks Day on Saturday, Feb. 25 with a morning of activities spread across four parks.

The day will include the grand opening of Ishihara Park, renaming of Gandara Park (formerly Stewart St. Park), reopening of Reed Park and the conclusion of construction at Los Amigos Park.

Karen Ginsberg, Director of Community & Cultural Services, said the work at all the parks reflects the needs of the individuals who use them.

“A park should really support the community, the neighborhood, the people that visit it,” she said. “Park design benefits from working with the community that is interested in having a park in a particular location and using the park.”

She said the city held community meetings for both the construction of Ishihara Park and the renovation of Reed Park. In both cases, community input was factored into the design as was a larger view of the city’s park needs.

“There needs to be community input to be successful. With that community input and balancing it with what other parks in the area provide, that’s how the need is addressed to there’s a variety of opportunities for the community across the city.”

At Ishihara Park, she said the transformation of the area was dramatic.

“We turned a parking lot into a park for people and wildlife,” she said. “It’s a tight knit community and there are residence and multi-family homes without much yard space so we can provide a front or back yard for the neighborhood.”

The long, thin space has been divided into “rooms” with specific uses/experiences. Both ends are bordered by large mature trees and inside the park there will be a watershed area, bird garden, open space, picnic/grill area, playground and a demonstration/learning garden.

The park was named for George Ishihara, a long-time resident of Santa Monica’s Pico Neighborhood and a World War II veteran.

Gandara Park will also be named for a war hero.

Private Joe Gandara was a Santa Monica native killed in World War II at the age of 20. In 2014, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama after years of neglect due to his Hispanic heritage.

While Reed Park is one of the city’s oldest, it has experienced substantial renovations. Upgrades include exercise equipment, additional landscaping/gardens, new footpaths, new signage, improvements to the park buildings and an overhaul of play equipment.

Ginsberg said the work will make the park more user friendly.

“I think the pathway that comes from the corner of Lincoln and California provides a great entrance into that space,” she said. “We hope that people will come and use that walking path and exercise equipment. We hope that that Miles Playhouse will use the outside patio for entertainment periodically.”

At Los Amigos Park, an underground cistern has been installed to capture and reuse storm water. The facility will recycle urban runoff from the nearby storm drain during dry weather and hold rain water during the wet season. The water will then be used in the parks landscaping and toilets.

The celebrations at all four parks begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

At Ishihara Park (2909 Exposition Blvd.), the Grand Opening Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Booths and activities (such as fitness demonstrations, learning garden activities and Parks Day Photo Booth) will begin after the ceremony and run through 1 p.m. Guided park tours (provided by Mia Lehrer & Associates and staff) will begin at 11 a.m.

In Gandara Park (1819 Stewart St.) there will be ongoing booths and activities such as CalFresh and Medi-Cal benefit enrollment, Pico neighborhood information, the Aqua Surf School, Market Match info, Rosie’s Girls, KidsZone, CREST Enrichment, Buy Local’s Most Loved voting and Parks Day photos. The Samohi Jazz band will perform at 10:30 a.m., a bike ride with the Mayor will depart at 11 a.m. and the Dave Jacques Trio will perform at 12 p.m.

The Mayor’s bike ride will be a three-mile trip to Los Amigos Park. Residents are encouraged to bring their own bikes (or pick up a Breeze Bike) and helmets. The ride will use city streets, some without bike lanes and children should be capable of street riding or secured appropriately to an adult’s bike.

Los Amigos Park (500 Hollister Ave.) will host booths from the Ocean Park Association, Sustainable Works, Aqua Surf School, The Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment (providing information on rain barrel rebates and water saving) and Parks Day photos. There will be a tour of the newly installed stormwater harvesting and use project at 10 a.m. the Pony League will hold their ceremonial first pitch in the afternoon.

Reed Park (1133 7th St.) will host performers from the city’s Senior Talent Show at 10 a.m., a class from Body Inspired Fitness Yoga at 11 a.m. and a Brazilian Samba/Zumba class at 11:30 a.m. Booths will include WISE & Healthy Aging, the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition, YogaWorks, Body Inspired Fitness, the Santa Monica Fire Department, homeless services, the Miles Playhouse and Parks Day photos.

“Parks are Santa Monica’s playground and a place where we exercise, gather with friends, and watch our kids’ happiest moments,” said Mayor Ted Winterer in a statement. “This is a day to celebrate with a new park opening and two park dedications in honor of Santa Monica heroes.”

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