Sherri Hellbusch and her family moved to Huntington Beach from Westminster a few years ago and immediately fell in love with Peter Green Park.
The 4-acre neighborhood hangout — named after a former mayor and located a mile north of City Hall — is among the city's newest, dedicated in 2005. It offers a playground, basketball and volleyball courts, shaded picnic tables and plenty of grassy space.
But the park's charms lessened in the years after Hellbusch's family moved nearby.
She saw holes in the playground's rubber floor. Swings were missing. A twirly slide was taken out and not replaced.
Perhaps worse, Hellbusch recalled, were overflowing trash cans and grounds littered with drug paraphernalia, used condoms, broken liquor bottles and cigarette butts.
"It's gone downhill so quickly," she said in an interview. "It's crazy."
Last summer, after feeling that the city's attempts to address her concerns were inadequate and learning there was no money at City Hall to fix them, she started an online petition.
As of Friday, the change.org petition, titled “Clean Up Our Parks & Playgrounds,” had collected more than 980 signatures, just shy of its 1,000-signature goal. A related Facebook page, “Help Our Huntington Beach Parks,” had 342 members.
"This is just not one person complaining," Hellbusch said. "This is an issue a lot of people are affected by and concerned about."
City officials say they have seen the petition and social media chatter about parks problems. They noted how the situation worsened after, as part of a cost-cutting move, City Hall reduced its trash pickup days at parks last summer.
Mayor Mike Posey said Thursday that he has spoken with Hellbusch and suggested that she and her neighbors form a nonprofit to raise money for Peter Green Park.
City Hall has a $35-million backlog in maintenance and capital improvement projects, Posey said.
Huntington Beach contains about 75 parks, he said.
"Everybody's park is a priority, and if you want to make something happen in your own park, a nonprofit is a good place to start," he added.
Posey noted how a public-private partnership was successful for an upcoming playground on the beach at 913 Pacific Coast Hwy. Tens of thousands of dollars in donations poured in for that facility, which is expected to be completed this spring.
As development in Huntington Beach slows, so does funding for parks, Posey said. Developers of projects in the city pay money toward parks as part of their fees.
Posey will hold a town hall meeting Feb. 10 at City Hall where he will discuss parks funding and other matters.
Meanwhile, Hellbusch said things have improved lately at Peter Green Park. The twirly slide is back, as are the swings.
Still, she is dismayed that direct City Hall funding is lacking.
"It's always a story," she said. "Bottom line is, the families in H.B. don't have clean or safe playgrounds for our kids, and it's a shame."