Q. I see a bunch of tattered signs on Spring Street advertising “Willow Springs Park.” What’s going on with that? – Jody Collins
A. Willow Springs Park is a 47-acre site bounded by Orange and California avenues on its sides, Spring Street to the north and Willow Street to the south – excluding the cemeteries and a small private lot.
According to District 7 Councilman James Johnson, when Willow Springs Park is completed, it will be the largest park to open in Long Beach since El Dorado Park. And, it will be the largest park on the west side of the city.
The park shares its name with the streets that bound it, named for the numerous willow trees and natural springs in the area.
Parts of the park – Longview Point and Farm Stand 59 – are already open, but the majority is yet to come.
Longview Point is, as Johnson put it, “The highest point accessible in the entire city of Long Beach, with gorgeous vistas of Catalina Island, the Pacific Ocean, downtown Long Beach and the Hollywood sign – on a very clear day.” Of course, there’s a giant hill to the east that’s pretty big, but who looks that way? The high point is covered by an area map made by local artist Steve Elicker. It’s an aerial view of Southern California made from decomposed granite and tumbled glass. A parking lot on Orange Avenue gives you access to a trail that leads to Longview Point.
Farm Lot 59 is a 1-acre farm at 2714 California Ave. run by Long Beach Local. According to longbeachlocal.org, they “grow food and flowers the old-fashioned way using our hands, without pesticides and chemicals.” Produce grown at the farm is available after June. They also sell to local restaurants, caterers and bartenders.
Johnson told me two things are on the horizon – a visitor center and a community garden education center.
The city set aside $1 million for the park, along with several grants, to fulfill the master plan. One of the things the plan calls for is a visitor center.
An old train station in the 1400 block of San Francisco Avenue will be moved to the park, most likely off California Avenue, and used as a visitor center. The station was built downtown in 1907 and moved to its current location in 1936.
The community garden education center will be one-acre area to teach young people about agriculture next to Farm Lot 59.
Johnson added, “It’s not a pie-in-the-sky project. When you have the money, you have the land, you have environmental approvals and you have a plan, all you need is the time to get it done … and that’s where we’re at.”
El Dorado Park filming update
A month ago I wrote about a single-family home being built in Area II of El Dorado Park for a movie.
The building is gone now, but at the time rumors were swirling that it was for a remake of “The Amityville Horror.” The production company refused to give me any information but, when the house was finished it was a clear, dead ringer for the house in the 1979 classic.
This version, simply titled “Amityville,” will star Jennifer Jason Leigh as a single mother who moves in to the spooky house with her three kids.
It’s set to be released in January.