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Edison Park upgrades move forward as conceptual plan gets nod from H.B. City Council

Alyssa Whitson, 21, ollies a curb at the Edison Park skate spot when it was launched in July.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday night voted to approve a conceptual plan that would add several fields to Edison Park while also keeping dozens of mature trees in the space.

The council unanimously voted to approve one of three options presented by the city’s Community & Library Services Department. The main distinction between the option chosen and the other two was that it would nix a proposed 57-stall parking area and dedicated dog area in the north area of the park along Stillwell Drive.

“Staff will certainly address off-site parking alternatives, to address parking needs during peak usage,” Community & Library Services director Chris Slama said. “We’ve already had some conversations with Edison High School, as well as the [Huntington Beach] City School District. They’re definitely open to the discussion, to see what kind of options there would be to share some space.”

At nearly 40 acres, Edison Park is one of the largest parks in the city. Neighbors spoke up at the council meeting about traffic concerns, as well as environmental concerns with the removal of the mature trees.

Tamara McClory of the RGM Design Group said in a presentation that the process of the Edison Park renovation was started in May, to develop a conceptual master plan based on community input and professional analysis. She said the various online surveys and community workshops had a total of 623 participants.

The Edison Park conceptual plan would include four new full- and half-court basketball courts, and two new tennis courts. Two existing tennis courts would be converted to eight pickleball courts. The new sports courts along Magnolia Street would result in the removal of several large eucalyptus trees.

Two new under-10 soccer fields would be overlaid with the two existing softball fields. Plus, three more 50- by 70-yard soccer fields would be added in the southern part of the park along Hamilton Avenue, owned by Southern California Edison.

“In talking with the soccer groups that would be using these, these would be primarily be used for practice space,” Slama said. “We don’t need to be limited to those particular dimensions. From what I’m gathering from the soccer groups, the more space the better.”

The Edison Park skate spot which launched in July would be expanded, and a pump track would be provided for bike riders.

Though Slama said about 200 new trees would be planted, tree advocates showed up to Tuesday’s meeting in protest after last week’s initially approved plan would have eliminated about 20 large trees, primarily pines, and put the parking lot along Stillwell Drive.

Longtime southeast Huntington Beach resident Nancy Buchoz told the council that the adjustments needed to be made to protect the trees “on the chopping block.” She formed a group with her friend Betty Flynn called Friends of Edison Park about a year ago, to schedule cleanings and discussions of the park.

“I didn’t think I was a tree-hugger, but I guess I am,” she said. “By removing the gates and fencing and making the fields longer ... the trees are going to get cut. Those are like 50-year-old trees, 48 years to be exact, and there’s got to be a way that we can accommodate all of the needs.”

Bill Craig said he frequents the park with his family to play tennis and basketball, as well as just to hang out.

“I think the team did a good job with the park,” he said. “I’m especially excited to see an addition of a pump track. It’s something that people of all ages can enjoy — people using skateboards, scooters, bikes, anything on wheels. It’s something different and something cool.”

In the end, the council voted for the amended plan. Councilman Erik Peterson suggested hanging banners around the park to spur more community involvement.

“Thank you for listening and making some changes,” Peterson said to Slama. “If you’re going to take more input, banners are pretty cheap.”

The next steps will be to perform geotechnical and engineering studies, and more community outreach, to put together a more formal plan. Slama said much more research needs to be done before figuring out a price tag.

The project website is bit.ly/hbedisonpark.

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