Since 2007, Brian Ulaszweski has received picture after picture of vehicle accidents. And not just any vehicle accidents but ones that occurred in a very specific place: the trisection of 7th Street/MLK/Alamitos.
Dubbed the city’s most dangerous intersection, Ulaszweski proposed a daring concept that, once explained, feels no-brainer in its essence. Kill the danger of the intersection by stripping car accessibility on MLK and replacing it with green space and enhanced accessibility to the area’s two museums, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and the Pacific Island Ethinic Art Museum (PieAM).
Handed the moniker of Armory Park by the community, Alamitos Park by the peeps at the City with a Capital C, and formally designated Gumbiner Park last March, the City Council formally moved forward last night to make the park tangible.
Gumbiner Park will be a win-win project for the community. Remove the most dangerous intersection in Long Beach; improve pedestrian connectivity between multiple neighborhoods and triple the available park space in the community (which is still abysmally low), while maintaining traffic flow.
“This park project would not be happening without the community’s perseverance,” Ulaszweski said. “Hundreds of residents and stakeholders who wrote emails and letters, bent the ear and provided public testimony to city officials and documented the unsafe conditions of these intersections.”
All councilmembers and Mayor Robert Garcia expressed similar gratitude toward the community, noting that the physical work ahead has been worth the arduous battle to make the park a reality.
“It is kind of fitting that Mayor Garcia will lead this project to its completion,” Ulaszweski said. “I remember meeting with him while he was staff of a former councilmember, as a neighborhood activist in the Downtown, the First District Councilmember where this park is being built, Vice Mayor and finally as Mayor of Long Beach. He has shown a lot of leadership by giving residents a voice for making change in their community.”
There are, per usual City projects that have been through the bureaucracy, interesting facets of the finalized project. Precious parking spots are being lost, for one. The decoupling of 6th and 7th Street have turned them into soon-to-be two-way streets, with the transition of 6th traffic from the 710 shifting from MLK to Atlantic Avenue. MLK between 6th and 7th Street will be vacated and become City property in order to be developed as a park.
Finally, the City executes the budget and contractor selections for the street work, park improvements and civil engineer/documentation.
“Gumbiner Park will be a win-win project for the community,” Ulaszweski continued. “Remove the most dangerous intersection in Long Beach; improve pedestrian connectivity between multiple neighborhoods and triple the available park space in the community (which is still abysmally low), while maintaining traffic flow.”
The AECOM-designed project—largely funded through two non-local resources, Prop 84 funds and CalTrans grants—will provide roughly .85 acres of park space in dense residential neighborhood that is entirely devoid of any park space within a 1/2 mile radius.
“A safety based, community-building project took over a dozen years to reach this point implementation. While it is excited to see this come to fruition, local government and the community to need to find avenues for greater collaboration to make similar projects happen more often and with greater haste.”