Some long-requested changes are headed to one of the city’s oldest and most popular parks.
Renovations are scheduled for Grant Howald Park, one of the Newport Beach’s most visited parks, according to city staff.
The multi-use park is located on 3.1 acres on 5th Avenue between Marguerite and Goldenrod avenues in Corona de Mar. It has served the recreational needs of the community since 1954 and will soon be undergoing some long-needed rehabilitation work.
Improvements for the park have been discussed for several years, and the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission created an ad hoc committee on June 5 to review possible renovations.
Details of the plan were presented Wednesday at a public meeting at the park’s center, where planners invited input from the approximately 20 residents who attended the event.
Planned park upgrades include new playground equipment to encourage integrated play, additional seating areas, expanded picnic areas, serpentine walkways throughout the acreage, landscaping upgrades, beautification of 5th Avenue frontage, and updated restrooms.
The park includes a sports field, tennis courts, community youth center, playground and open park space. Softball play has declined over recent years, but there has been increased demand in other sports, Recreation and Senior Services Director Laura Detweiler previously noted.
Most public comments on Wednesday focused on the planned installation of synthetic turf on the athletic field.
City staff clarified that artificial turf is just as safe for young athletes as natural grass, as proven at major university recreational fields and stadia, as well as at many NFL fields for the past 20 years. Additionally, implementation would allow for all-year use, whereas natural grass required up to four months annually for regeneration or replanting.
Installing a synthetic turf would include several months of working on the drainage system, Public Works Director Dave Webb previously explained.
The synthetic turf installed several years ago at Bonita Creek Park “has been one of the best things we have ever done,” Detweiler said in June. It has never shut down, not even in inclement weather, she pointed out.
Staff included $250,000 for design and permitting in the Capital Improvement Program of the proposed 2018-19 Fiscal Year budget.
Funds for construction of the project still need to be approved by Council. With an artificial field and the other suggested improvements, construction costs could easily be between $1 million to $2 million.