Central Park's bandstand could get a new name to honor Huntington Beach band's music director

Central Park's bandstand could get a new name to honor Huntington Beach band's music director
Conductor Tom Ridley during a Huntington Beach Concert Band rehearsal at Marina High School in 2016. (Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

When the recession hit during the late 2000s, the Huntington Beach Concert Band lost its funding. All seemed lost until its longtime music director stepped in.

Tom Ridley and the musicians worked together to save the group and grow Concerts in the Park, a series of musical performances held in Central Park.


On Monday, the Huntington Beach City Council will consider dedicating the Central Park bandstand to Ridley.

Also on the agenda is a discussion of the logistics of a proposed trail connecting Central Park to the shoreline.


Councilman Patrick Brenden requested consideration of the bandstand renaming in honor of Ridley, who according to the band's website has been music director of the Huntington Beach Concert Band since 1977.

Linda Couey, the general manager of the concert band, said Friday that Ridley is deserving of the honor.

"For 40 years he has worked to develop a band for Huntington Beach which rivals any community band in the country," Couey said. "His giving of his time and his talent for the [band] and for the whole community cannot be overestimated."

The naming of park features requires approval from the Community Services Commission and the City Council. So if council members vote in favor of Brenden's request, the commission would then research the issue and provide a recommendation.

The council will also discuss in closed session a proposal to construct the "Shipley to Shore" trail, which would connect Central Park to Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, a county park at 19251 Seapoint St.

The park's namesake, known as a political maverick, became the first woman elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Wieder died in 2010 at age 89.

Dave Dominguez, the city's facilities manager, said Friday that the relatively undeveloped trail system in certain areas of the park would be used in the proposed project.

But so far the focus is on connecting the Central Park dog park and the Urban Forest, a park at 6711 Ellis Ave. that is currently being restored. And no skeletal trails exist in that area.

For this, the largest portion of the project, $70,000 is being sought — $35,000 from the city and $35,000 from a federal habitat grant, Dominguez said.

Dominguez said if the grant is denied, then more city funds would be requested. He said the trail was included in the council's strategic planning goals.

If the grant is received and the project can get underway, then that segment between the dog park and the Urban Forest can be completed within a few months, he said.

The entire project was proposed by Jean Nagy, founder of the Huntington Beach Tree Society, a group that leads local beautification projects. She said Friday that she'd thought of the trail around eight years ago.

Nagy and members of the tree society have worked to restore areas of Central Park. The Urban Forest is a project that is particularly dear to Nagy, and she wanted a way to connect the parcel to the rest of Central Park.

Nagy has already started work on the existing portions of the trail, setting up old boulders along the edges. The boulders came from the now-defunct Lion Country Safari park in Irvine, where visitors could drive through an Africanesque landscape in close proximity to lions, giraffes and other wildlife. The park was closed more than 30 years ago, and Nagy worked for years to secure the boulders.

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