Marina Park Opens the ‘Window to the Bay’

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The $35.8 million, 10.5-acre Marina Park opened its doors on Saturday during a grand opening event, which included an official ribbon cutting ceremony, program demonstrations, a christening of the fleet, an open house and tours, and more. The facility will include a 24,000-square-foot community and sailing center, 23-slip visitor serving marina, nautical themed children’s play area, Lighthouse Café, and a 177-space parking lot. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
The $35.8 million, 10.5-acre Marina Park opened its doors on Saturday during a grand opening event. The facility includes a 24,000-square-foot community and sailing center, 23-slip visitor serving marina, nautical themed children’s play area, Lighthouse Café, and a 177-space parking lot.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

The city opened the “Window to the Bay” over the weekend and hundreds of people showed up to take in the view.

The grand opening of the $35.8 million Marina Park was held Saturday at 1600 W. Balboa Blvd., on the Balboa Peninsula.

Councilman and recent Mayor Ed Selich speaks during the grand opening ceremony for Marina Park as Recreation and Senior Services Director Laura Detweiler and Public Works Director Dave Webb look on. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Councilman and recent Mayor Ed Selich speaks during the grand opening ceremony for Marina Park as Recreation and Senior Services Director Laura Detweiler and Public Works Director Dave Webb look on.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

The event featured an official ribbon cutting ceremony, program demonstrations, a christening of the fleet, an open house and tours, and more.

“This is a facility like no other in Southern California,” said Councilman and former Mayor Ed Selich. “I have not seen anything like this anywhere.”

The 10.5-acre site includes a public park, 24,000-square-foot community and sailing center, 23-slip visitor serving marina, nautical themed children’s play area, Lighthouse Café, and a 177-space parking lot.

Residents from all over the city came to the peninsula to see the new park, Mayor Diane Dixon pointed out.

“I am so pleased to see the community out today to enjoy this beautiful new facility, Marina Park,” Dixon said. “It’s going to have a transformative effect on our community, economically and recreationally.”

It’s a great asset for the community, agreed longtime Balboa Peninsula resident Susan Corum.

Marina Park will bring people to the peninsula and help revitalize the area, she added.

Peninsula residents Kev Haleblian and his son, Brandyn, 8, look out over the bay from Marina Park during the grand opening event on Saturday. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Peninsula residents Kev Haleblian and his son, Brandyn, 8, look out over the bay from Marina Park during the grand opening event on Saturday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

It will really help the neighborhood, agreed another Peninsula local, Kev Haleblian.

It’s a valuable facility to have right down the street, he noted.

“It’s a gift from the taxpayers to the residents of Newport Beach,” Dixon said. “We are so fortunate to have Marina Park in our community.”

It’s for families, children and people of all ages, she added.

Haleblian and his son, Brandyn, 8, were out enjoying the new park during the grand opening on Saturday.

“We’re loving it,” Kev Haleblian said.

The 10.5-acre Marina Park held a grand opening event on Saturday. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
The 10.5-acre Marina Park held a grand opening event on Saturday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

They will definitely be visiting Marina Park often, he added.

Both Corum and Haleblian said they’ll be returning for classes, which start on Jan. 11. Sample classes are being offered until Sunday. Classes will include fitness, dance, kayaking, stand up paddling, and more.

The city also has an agreement with campus recreation department at University of California, Irvine, to serve as the provider of the year-round boating program.

All of this is the culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people over the past 11 years, Selich said.

In 2005, there were several ideas about what to do with the site. An aquatic park, a full service marina, and a park and recreation center were just a few of the suggestions.

Former Mayor Rush Hill visits the Lighthouse Cafe during the Marina Park grand opening event. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Former Mayor Rush Hill visits the Lighthouse Cafe during the Marina Park grand opening event.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Selich chaired the Ad Hoc Marina Park Task Force that reviewed the ideas. They wanted something that was functional, architecturally significant, visitor serving and included a park. The selected plan is close to what now sits there, he noted.  

“It was truly a community effort to arrive at this plan,” Selich said. “It was something that all of us could support.”

In 2007, a committee of residents and council members was created and charged with working out the details to create a master plan.

Construction began in Dec. 2013 with an estimated completion in spring 2016 and a budget of $39.5 million. The project came in several months ahead of schedule and under budget.

“It is the crown jewel of the city’s park and recreation program,” Selich said. “It will be here for generations to come as a proud symbol of our nautical heritage.”

For more information, visit newportbeachca.gov.

The sail of a University of California, Irvine, Marina Park boat flaps in the wind in front of the Lighthouse Cafe at Marina Park. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
The sail of a University of California, Irvine, Marina Park boat flaps in the wind in front of the Lighthouse Cafe at Marina Park.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
City Council members cut the ribbon to Marina Park. — Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach ©
City Council members cut the ribbon to Marina Park.
— Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach ©
Councilman and Former Mayor Ed Selich holds up a broken champagne bottle after christening the fleet from the University of California, Irvine, sailing program. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Councilman and Former Mayor Ed Selich holds up a broken champagne bottle after christening the fleet from the University of California, Irvine, sailing program.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Visitors check out the rooms at Marina Park during the open house. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Visitors check out the rooms at Marina Park during the open house.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Former Mayor Don Webb looks out over the bay during the Marina Park grand opening. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Former Mayor Don Webb looks out over the bay during the Marina Park grand opening.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Another angle of Marina Park. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Another angle of Marina Park.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Councilman and recent Mayor Ed Selich (center) talks with guests during the event. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Councilman and recent Mayor Ed Selich (center) talks with guests during the event.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Marina Park visitors check out the view from the second story of the facility. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Marina Park visitors check out the view from the second story of the facility.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
New Mayor Diane Dixon poses for a photo with a commemorative Marina Park grand opening oar on Saturday. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
New Mayor Diane Dixon poses for a photo with a commemorative Marina Park grand opening oar on Saturday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Former Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle poses for a photo on the NB lifeguard boat with a Marina Park commemorative oar. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Former Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle poses for a photo on the NB lifeguard boat with a Marina Park commemorative oar.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
The children's play area includes a lighthouse structure. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
The children’s play area includes a lighthouse structure.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Balboa Peninsula resident Patricia Litten (front, left) and Fountain Valley resident Margie Kim take a kayak out on the bay as University of California, Irvine, boat staffer Kim Tran helps during the Marina Park event. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Balboa Peninsula resident Patricia Litten (front, left) and Fountain Valley resident Margie Kim take a kayak out on the bay as University of California, Irvine, boat staffer Kim Tran helps during the Marina Park event.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
Caroline Corum, 4, gets a hug from Cinderella at the Marina Park event on Saturday. Her grandmother, Susan, lives on the peninsula. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Caroline Corum, 4, gets a hug from Cinderella at the Marina Park event on Saturday. Her grandmother, Susan, lives on the peninsula.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
The band Public Rocks, comprised of all public employees (from Newport Beach and other municipalities) including NB City Manager Dave Kiff (middle) and Deputy Public Works Director and City Engineer Mark Vukojevic (far left), provided live music at the event. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
The band Public Rocks, comprised of all public employees (from Newport Beach and other municipalities) including NB City Manager Dave Kiff (middle) and Deputy Public Works Director and City Engineer Mark Vukojevic (far left), provided live music at the event.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
City Council and Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commissioners — Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach
City Council and Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commissioners
— Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach
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