December 10, 2015
Newport Beach’s New Nautical Nirvana- Marina Park
This past Saturday, December 5th, 2015 was the grand opening celebration of the new Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula. And “grand” it was. Center stage we were greeted by Laura Detweiler, Recreation & Senor Services Director for the City. She could hardly contain her excitement. We enjoyed a Presentation of Colors by the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines Color Guard, and a Flag Salute by Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon. Reverend Monsignor Lawrence J. Baird gave the Invocation, and Olivia Rybus who grew up on this very spot, sang the National Anthem splendidly. Dave Webb also spoke to the crowd about the arduous efforts to bring the project to completion. Under budget and five months ahead of schedule Dave proclaimed with a big smile and a round of applause from the standing room only crowd. That was music to the ears of Mayor Edward D. Selich, who also addressed the crowd thanking so many who participated in the process. The City dedicated this park to the community and all those who dreamed of a new bayfront park —from City Council to Harbor Commission, Parks & Recreation, consultants and community leaders who stepped up to shape the direction of this project from its infancy to right now. It was all very heartfelt, and I could just tell that “collaboration” was the cornerstone of this entire project.
So Much More Than A Park
This new center is so much more than just a park. Marina Park is really an awesome new nautical center for the community. It is a place for visitors and locals alike to enjoy water sports and to gather to have fun. It is aptly described as the “window to the bay”. This 10.5 acre park has a brand new Community Center with a bridge to a 24,000 square foot Sailing Center. There I found meeting rooms, lounges, restrooms and spectacular terraces with bayfront views. They will soon be signing folks up for various classes. There is also a nautical themed playground for children with a lighthouse for climbing, an outdoor fitness circuit, half-court for basketball, walking path, grassy areas for picnics, a huge parking lot, and 23 boat slips for docking, side-ties for larger vessels and a sandy beach for kayaks and paddle boards to easily access the water. A Girl Scout’s OC Leadership Center will be built within the next year to the north end of the Marina Park.
There is also a lovely restaurant, called the Lighthouse Bayside Café offering California coastal cuisine. The founders of Ruby’s are operating this restaurant and the Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mr. Cavanaugh, of Ruby’s indicated, “This will be a neighborhood destination that is casual yet elegant and takes advantage of the most spectacular views. People can walk, bike or boat to the Marina Park and enjoy the Lighthouse Café, Community Center, beach picnic area and of course the bay.”
How It All Came To Fruition
A brief historical chronology was provided, and it is quite interesting to imagine back to the early 1900’s here on the Balboa Peninsula. The City of Newport Beach purchased this land in 1919 and set it up as a camping ground. Campers paid 75 cents a night to stay here. In 1955 it was converted to a trailer park, and later a mobile home park. In 1985 it was voted to turn this land into a park, and guess what, it only took 30 years to come to fruition. Spanning from 19th Street to the American Legion site, they took away 57 mobile homes. Unlike other seaside locations, this one was a peaceful transition, and 47 of those were relocated to other places in the state. There was dredging, building permits, the Coastal Commission approvals and so forth. It sounded like a long process to say the least. But finally construction began in December of 2013. And here we are today. A very exciting day indeed!
An Ecology Minded Project
It is instantly apparent that this project marched to the beat of an ecology-minded drum. From the parking lot made of long lasting materials vs. asphalt, to the 46% less water usage on the grounds, and the building materials in the structures, this is a noteworthy project meeting the LEED-Silver standards. Various features throughout the building assure that they will minimize energy consumption and water run-off.
Come and Enjoy
There are two very special noteworthy features here on the site. One is a dramatic Lighthouse nautical structure that acts as an iconic beacon, and can be seen from great distances in the water. The second is the expansive wave of palm trees that flank the entrance from the parking lot. These were carefully parked in a side-lot during construction, and were replanted to create a dramatic wave of fluttering palms opening to frame the “window to the bay”. This is a place to be used, and enjoyed with lots to see and do, all with spectacular views!
1600 W. Balboa Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663