Santa Cruz Parks Get Makeovers
Santa Cruz loves its parks, yet all of that affection can be rough on landscaping, facilities, and equipment.
While funds remain tight, City parks officials are preserving and enhancing some of our best-loved community spaces with a blend of creativity, grants, and volunteer labor.
A wildly popular playground in the Beach Flats neighborhood got a major makeover this year, and the Westside’s Derby Park saw a careful restoration of its 1970s vintage skateboard run—one of the oldest skateparks in the United States. And thanks to volunteers, the City now has two new disc golf courses open for public use.
“We have very limited funds, but we do our best to be efficient and listen to what park users are telling us,” said Parks Superintendant Mauro Garcia. “We try and squeeze these improvements out of the budget, and collaborate with clubs and volunteers.”
Tiny Beach Flats Park is hugely popular with the 5–12-year-old set, whose active feet had worn away the playground’s rubberized surfaces and battered the outdated play equipment. Using a Federal grant, parks officials were able to order the new slides, swings, glide bar, and climbing arch requested by the community, and reopen the park on June 13, 2012—just in time for summer break.
Age and popularity had also taken a toll at Derby Park, leaving cracks in the concrete skateboard track. And there was another historical problem—more than 30 years after it was dedicated, few people remembered that the park had been named to memorialize Santa Cruz Police Sgt. Charles Derby, who was a beloved mentor to a generation of at-risk youth, and who died in 1972.
The City’s plan to resurface the skateboard run with rebar and concrete initially caused concern from local skaters, who were taken by surprise when work crews closed off the area. But opposition quickly transformed into support as construction crews added some terrain features requested by park users, and even hired some of the concerned skaters to work on the project.
The skatepark is already back in service, receiving rave reviews from skateboarders, and a new four-hole disc golf course is bringing a new set of users to Derby Park. The official renaming of Derby Park as Sgt. Charles Derby Park, and the dedication of a plaque and memorial stone, is scheduled for October 6, 2012.
“For years now nobody has had any idea who the park was named after,” said Jeanne Baker, Sgt. Derby’s daughter. “The family is really happy and excited about this. My dad spent his career helping kids, and it warms our hearts to know that he will be remembered now for what he did.”
Volunteers from the DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club, who helped install the four-hole beginner course at Derby Park, were also instrumental in designing and installing a new nine-hole, par-three disc golf course in the benchlands area of San Lorenzo Park.
Parks crews have also laid out boundaries for soccer and football fields on the benchlands’ extensive lawns, hoping to draw more youth leagues and positive activity to the area.