Stewart Park Concept

Two oblong blocks, one essentially on 10th street, are proposed sites for future restrooms at Stewart Park.

Someday in the not-too-distant future, people might be able to relieve themselves along Tenth Street in Beaumont.

Technically, the street itself will have been absorbed into Stewart Park, and restrooms will be built in that vicinity, according to plans for the park.

At Beaumont’s Nov. 2 city council meeting, the council approved closing off Tenth Street between Orange and Maple avenues.

As part of Beaumont’s approved $3,395,000 towards capital improvement projects around the city’s parks, a large chunk of that will be used to overhaul Stewart Park.

Last winter the city began demolition of the “plunge,” Beaumont’s municipal pool that had been at Stewart Park since 1963, which was plagued with leaks and cracks, and did not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

By July 4 last summer, the former pavilion that staged concerts for years had been removed.

At the end of September, the city saw the first drafts of designs from Yorba Linda-based California Waters for the planned splash pad that will provide aquatic respite in place of the pool.

And last August, the city received a cost estimate of roughly $1.3 million for a future band shell.

Since April steel prices have increased 30 percent, making it challenging for the city to meet a $350,000 budget to go towards the bandshell, with estimates coming in about three times that amount to purchase and install everything related to the pavilion’s replacement.

Community Services Director Elizabeth Gibbs told the council that they also had the option of simply renting a portable bandshell and stage for events like the Cherry Festival and Freedom Festival, in lieu of building a permanent pavilion replacement.

Mayor Pro Team Lloyd White suggested potentially purchasing a mobile stage for the city.

The ballpark at Stewart Park is also gone, demolished in the past few weeks.

Councilman Julio Martinez was curious as to why there was not a complete plan for the park — some landscaping designs were available for one end of the park, but not the other, for instance.

Gibbs explained that some projects the city was trying to do in-house, such as demolition of the ballfield, to try and save money.

Using city staff to demolish the pool cost the city $60,000; had they contracted that same project exclusively to an outside firm, the cost would have likely been closer to $100,000, Gibbs said.

Mayor Mike Lara wanted to make sure that the plans incorporated where the retention basin is (that collects rainwater runoff), and a designated area to show where street fairs could be held. He was curious as to whether the splash pad would be lighted.

He also wanted to make sure Stewart Park would have adequate utilities for events to be held there.

Gibbs said that controlled lighting will be installed with the splash pad, and the lights could be themed for holidays and special occasions.

She told Lara that an electrical engineer provide input for the park’s planning.

Across town at Rangel Park, a prefabricated restroom and snack bar have been installed about a year ago.

An electrical engineering firm has been tasked with upgrading utilities for ball field lighting, park lighting and basketball court lighting, as well as a potential mechanical room for a future splash pad.

Since prices had risen substantially, and since there is limited space, the city opted to go ahead with removing a splash pad from Rangel Park in order to be able to fund the rest of the projects there.

Community member Leslie Rios expressed concerns over vandalism at the park, and wanted assurances that the basketball court would remain to provide one more venue to keep young people occupied, and encouraged the city to consider opening the restrooms for the youth who use the park for practices.

Community member David Valdivia told the council that he agreed with removal of the splash pad, noting that in his family’s personal observations, the baseball fields are the most used amenity, and said he hoped to have it available for night use in time for his community’s Fourth of July tournament.

City officials noted that current plans only provide for a half-court basketball facility, and that the playground might have to be moved in order to provide for a full court, even with the removal of the splash pad creating more room.

City Manager Todd Parton promised to make sure that the park could host its July 4 basketball tournament.

As officials queried city staff as to various components of a concept for Stewart park, Parton asked for direction, and wanted to know from the council’s perspective “What is the intended purpose of the park: are we designing it for the Cherry Festival and major music events; is that our vision of what the park is going to be — and that has a huge impact on what we need to invest in the park and the things we need to do” first, Parton pointed out.

Does the council want it to be used for market nights, youth athletic activities, for instance?

Professional concert venues prefer dressing rooms and RV parking, for instance, Parton noted. It was pointed out that performers have not traditionally been happy with the previous bandshell’s orientation, where entertainers faced the glaring sun; a future venue should be considered with a north or south-facing structure.

Changes to the concept, or additions, to the park would need to be considered now as the city looks to hiring landscape architect firms and implement the various amenities the city wants, and lets the city determine how to phase in incorporating those details, Parton said.

Councilman Rey Santos indicated that he wanted to see walking trails at Stewart Park.

At the direction of the council, the city will go back to the drawing board and come up with direction and priorities for what should be done at Stewart Park.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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