HISTORIC BELMAR PARK: The project is expected to be at Pico and 4th Street. Courtesy image.

Santa Monica’s Historic Belmar Park recently received approval from the California Coastal Commission but city officials must complete the project’s planned artwork and historical exhibition before the city’s newest park can be enjoyed by the public.

The Belmar History + Art Project kicked off last year in an effort to commemorate a site that was home to a thriving African American community in Santa Monica until the 1950s. In the months since, artist April Banks and Historian Dr. Allison Rose Jefferson have been out in the community engaging with residents to find the stories and memories of the Santa Monicans who were displaced from the Belmar neighborhood as well as any archival footage that pertains to the era.

City leaders have also repeatedly shared how proud they are for the Belmar History + Art Project to showcase the California Coastal Commission’s new environmental and social justice policy at council and commission meetings.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome significant artwork and field space that are part of Historic Belmar Park at the Civic Center in February,” Community Services Director Andy Agle said in response to the project’s approval. “‘A Resurrection in Four Stanzas,’ by artist April Banks and interpretive panels by historian Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson are the result of a community-sourced art and history project that brings the Belmar neighborhood to life. We look forward to a safe community celebration that commemorates Santa Monica’s African-American heritage and a new space for active recreation next year.”

The project, complete with a new Civic Center Multipurpose Sports Field, interpretive panels and educational signage, was originally expected to be open later this year but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to delays that disrupted the previously established timeline. Currently, the historical exhibition is scheduled to be installed in late Fall, with the public artwork by April Banks, “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas,” scheduled to be installed later in February 2021.

As part of the Coastal Commission’s special condition for the development of the Historic Belmar Park, a commemorative artwork and historical exhibition is required to be in place before the park can be opened for public use, Angle said, so the park’s opening is now anticipated for February 2021 with the completion of A Resurrection in Four Stanzas.

“When we are able to open Historic Belmar Park, we hope you will join us to celebrate this new Park, its expansion of our outdoor recreation space, and its showcasing of how our community can build from our past to create our future together,” Angle said, urging residents to read more about the project at santamonica.gov/arts/belmar.

Brennon@smdp.com