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North Park mini-park delivers big

A decade in the making, North Park’s mini-park celebrated its grand opening on Sunday, Jan. 16. Located along 29th Street and North Park Way, the $5-million pocket park is more like a plaza or square than a traditional park, with a performance stage, a musical play area, seating areas with tables, chairs and benches, enhanced lighting, wayfinding pylons, bike racks, a drinking fountain, improved landscape and irrigation, and more.

Mayor Todd Gloria cut the ribbon on the new park, joined by Assemblyman Chris Ward, Toni Atkins, State Senate President Pro Tempore, City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, and Angela Landsberg, executive director of the North Park Main Street business association. Food trucks, a children’s music program and other live music followed the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The park was approved a decade ago as part of a North Park redevelopment district, and the City began soliciting construction bids in 2019. But when redevelopment unraveled statewide a few years later, the park plan fell into limbo.

At 21,780 square feet, this may seem like a small project but it’s not small for the community who kept this going, said Atkins, who was a San Diego City Council member representing North Park when the idea first surfaced in 2003.

The idea behind the park is to create a link between the area’s residential and commercial districts through a pedestrian plaza and tree-lined promenade near the historic North Park Theatre, now known as the Observatory.

Work remains to be done: the pedestrian promenade that would have connected the park to University Avenue was not built, mostly because of funding. Without it, there is no invitation to come down to the park from North Park’s commercial core.

Landsberg wants to see the linkage finished.

“I think it is a terrific start, but there’s a lot of work to do,” said Landsberg. “We have a new nonprofit— the North Park Business and Neighborhood Foundation—that is going to be working hard to program it, keep it activated, really draw attention to it.” The nonprofit will also help schedule events such as movie nights and farmers’ markets.

Last year, Mayor Todd Gloria began the “Parks for All of Us” initiative, updating the City’s Parks Master Plan to prioritize park improvements in park-deficient and historically underserved communities, and intended to help fund more projects like this in the future.

— Delle Willett has been a marketing and public relations professional for over 30 years, with an emphasis on conservation of the environment.

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