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Airport Park Opens Amid Controversy:

An estimated two thousand people celebrated the opening of the new 8.3-acre Airport Park at festivities on Sunday, April 29.  The park is located at the south side of the Santa Monica Airport at 3201 Airport Avenue. 

Mayor Richard Bloom told the enthusiastic crowd, “This park has been a long time coming.  What you’re seeing here today is literally the work by thousands of people in our community.”  He emphasized that though the park is for people and dogs, it is “mostly about children.”

The park features a three-acre lighted synthetic turf sports field that, Bloom noted, “is the first public artificial turf in Santa Monica,” and is usable year-round.  The new park has a one-acre large and small dog off-leash park that can accommodate up to 45 dogs.  Also included is a 6,300-square-foot children’s play area with swings and climbing apparatuses.  Other amenities include 17 picnic tables with six barbeque grills, a 0.6-mile walking loop and a 118-space parking lot plus bike racks. The park’s site was originally part of Santa Monica Airport, but its last use was as a shuttle parking lot for Santa Monica College and storage for excess inventory for local car dealerships.

Sunday was not a day of celebration for everyone.  Some dog owners from Mar Vista who live close to the park protested the fact that the off-leash park is open only to Santa Monica-licensed dogs with current year tags, as are all dog parks in the City. 

In an interview with the Mirror, Santa Monica’s Assistant Director of Community and Cultural Services, Karen Ginsberg, stated that the City is trying to work on a possible pilot program with Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office that would allow 15 Mar Vista dog owners to use the park, “but nothing has been finalized to date.”  Any pilot program would have to be approved by the City Council.  See page 47 for a statement from Rosendahl on the issue.

Ginsberg also mentioned that the City’s roving animal control officers would be monitoring usage of the dog park on a regular basis.  Santa Monica currently has 5,500 licensed dogs.

Airport Park is the first new City-built park to open in 24 years and it cost $8.3 million to construct.  It was designed by ah’be landscape architects with key environmental features to help address storm water management, landscape planting and irrigation.  The soccer field, the north and south parking lots and the dog park all contain features that permit the absorption, infiltration and treatment of urban runoff so it doesn’t pollute Santa Monica Bay.    

Celebration festivities included music from the Belle Air Brass, treats from Typhoon Restaurant and the Spitfire Grill, soccer training, a reward for walking around the park loop and a dog obedience demonstration near the off-leash dog area. 

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