Dwight Murphy Field’s spectacular, large-scale, $ 6 million renovation passed through the Santa Barbara Planning Commission on Thursday.
The vote was 7-0 to approve a coastal development permit.
“This is a flagship project for our city,” said Deborah Schwartz, chair of the city’s planning commission. “I think it will put us on the map in a lot of ways, including a playground for all skill levels.”
Schwartz said the project touched him personally.
“One of my brothers, who doesn’t have all the abilities, would have just loved, loved this playground,” Schwartz said, fighting back tears. “I can’t wait for this to become a reality.”
A render shows plans to renovate the Dwight Murphy field in Santa Barbara. (RRM Design Group rendered)
The project provides for a regulation-size soccer field with synthetic turf, which would allow it to be used year-round. It also includes a youth baseball field, an outdoor fitness area, new sidewalks around the park, restrooms and new lighting. The renovation of the land is expected to cost around $ 3 million.
The The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation raises funds to create the accessible playground and has currently raised $ 1 million.
If fundraising continues on track, the project could be completed by 2023.
Gwendolyn Strong was born with a condition called spinal muscular atrophy and her parents, Bill and Victoria Strong, created a foundation after her birth to reach out to other families of children with ADS and help fund research for a cure. Gwendolyn died at the age of 7.
One in 40 people carry the gene, and the group is working to raise awareness about prenatal genetic testing.
A render shows design plans for an accessible playground at Dwight Murphy Field. (RRM Design Group, photo by the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation)
Changes are also coming on Ninos Drive between the land and the Santa Barbara Zoo. The road currently runs in two directions in the area, with parking, but would become a one-way street towards the beach, according to project plans.
This would increase the number of on-site vehicle parking spaces from 128 to 159, as well as 30 bicycle spaces. Parking along the perimeter of the park would be reduced from 68 spaces to 93 spaces. About 37 trees would be felled, five displaced and 33 would be protected. About 125 new trees would be planted.
Planning Commissioner Barrett Reed said he was grateful for the opportunity to review the project.
“This is one of the most exciting parks in our city’s history,” said Reed. “” I fully support the project. “
The park was built in the 1920s. The playgrounds were built in the 2000s.