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Santa Barbara Considers Big Changes to Ortega, Dwight Murphy Parks

Parks and Recreation Commission, Neighborhood Advisory Council will discuss plans at joint Wednesday meeting


Santa Barbara is looking to dramatically overhaul two of its parks to provide more services to the community.

At Ortega Park, the city is considering plans that would transform the park, which is next to Santa Barbara Junior High School. 

Ideas on the table include adding synthetic baseball turf, a skate area, fitness stations, ping pong tables, a splash pad, new playground and new basketball courts.

At Dwight Murphy Field, at Niños and Por La Mar drives near the Santa Barbara Zoo and waterfront, the city wants to preserve the soccer field, new fitness and playground areas, and walking path. The different options for a Dwight Murphy Field makeover are similar, except one includes a baseball field, and one doesn't.

“We're seeking to make these parks as inclusive as possible given the space available,” said City Councilman Jason Dominguez, whose district includes both parks. “We want to maximize the usage by as many families, groups and leagues as possible.”

The Parks and Recreation Commission and Neighborhood Advisory Council will hold a joint meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St., to talk about the plans.

The city has contracted with RRM Design Group to complete master plans for Ortega Park and Dwight Murphy Field.

The city hosted four community workshops, conducted online surveys, and worked with other city departments to develop two conceptual site plans for each park, and officials say both parks are in need of major infrastructure upgrades.

park field Click to view larger
City advisory groups will review master plans for Dwight Murphy Field.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

In addition to wanting to diversify the offerings at the two parks, a desire to stop the misuse of the two facilities is also fueling the master plan talks. 

The Parks and Recreation Department and police department want to increase recreational opportunities in the daytime and evening hours, and eliminate hiding places and limit access to the parks at night, which could reduce vandalism, illegal camping, and other park misuse, according to city officials. 

As part of the renovation plan, the police department recommends installing fencing and gates that would prevent public access when the park is closed.

Once the Parks and Recreation Department chooses plans for each park, they must be reviewed, by the Architectural Board of Review for Ortega Park and the Historic Landmarks Commission for Dwight Murphy Field.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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