After a rainy morning, the clouds over Beattie Park in Lompoc begin to part around noon and the sun peeks out. Kids shriek and giggle as they leap from play structure to structure, fly down slides, and swing across monkey bars still wet from a morning drizzle.
The brand new playground was unveiled on March 3 by city officials, and these children are the first to play on its state-of-the-art equipment.
Ground broke on the project in August 2020, thanks to a combination of Proposition 68 per capita grant funding and Lompoc Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. It’s now the largest inclusive playground in Santa Barbara County.
“It feels great,” Lompoc Recreation Manager Mario Guerrero Jr. said at the playground’s ribbon cutting. “It’s something for the community, for all ages and ability levels.”
Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne said that the playground’s designed to accommodate people with a range of abilities and mobility. It also means that people can come from anywhere to enjoy the park.
“We welcome not only those who live here to enjoy it, but those in our surrounding communities to come visit us,” Osborne said. “The other really amazing thing is that this park design has been nominated as a Triple National Demo Site, because it meets inclusive design, youth play, and adult fitness.”
A Triple National Demonstration Site designation is reserved for parks that meet stringent design standards in these three categories, making it accessible for not just kids of all ability levels, but adults, too.
The new playground replaces a much smaller structure that had to come down more than two years ago, Osborne said.
“We weren’t sure when we’d ever have the kind of funds to set something back up,” Osborne said. “This is 100 percent grant-funded, and it didn’t burden the city in any way, and we got to deliver way more than the little playground system that was here.”
City Manager Jim Throop said that the Proposition 68 grant funding the city received for the project was a big win.
“It’s a competitive funding source,” Throop said. “This was our first go-around competing with that.”
Lompoc’s success in securing and implementing the funding for the playground project will open up doors down the road, Throop said.
“We’re also putting in [funding applications] for many other projects around the city, now that we’ve been successful,” he said. “We think that we will have a very competitive edge against other cities to help bring up other parks that are in need of repair. … Stand by for more of these wonderful things to happen with Lompoc.” Δ