New playground equipment in bright red, orange and blue is in place for kids ages 2-5 at Eastside Neighborhood Park.
New playground equipment is in place for kids ages 2-5 at Eastside Neighborhood Park. Credit: Courtesy photo
Blue sail-style coverings shade the new playground apparatus for kids ages 5-12.
New playground apparatus for kids ages 5-12 includes vertical and lateral climbing activities. Credit: Courtesy photo

The Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department has reopened Eastside Neighborhood Park after the completion of several park improvements.

The multi-phase project aims to expand recreational opportunities while creating a safe, attractive gathering space for the neighborhood. The park now has two new playgrounds, adult fitness equipment, and accessible paths to connect park features.

One of the most notable improvements is the installation of the city’s first obstacle course playground designed to create play and fitness opportunities for older children.

The playground, intended for kids ages 5-12, includes vertical and lateral climbing activities, obstacles to promote balance and flexibility, and other features to improve strength, agility and coordination.

The Parks and Recreation Department also installed a new playground for children ages 2-5, including the city’s first public nest swing that allows parents and children to swing together.

Various fitness equipment was added throughout the park, including parallel bars and stations for sit-ups, dips, chin-ups, push-ups, and squats for a full-body workout.

“Community collaboration has played a critical role in this project,” said Jill Zachary, city Parks and Recreation director.

“This park is an important family gathering space for the neighborhood, and the public’s participation in workshops and meetings allowed us to reimagine this space to better serve Eastside residents,” she said.

Though some of the most anticipated elements of the project are complete, improvements are expected to continue through the new year. Portions of the park will remain temporarily fenced for a turf renovation to create grassy areas for the community to enjoy.

Improvements to Yanonali Garden, the community garden within Eastside Neighborhood Park, are also underway, with staff working with current gardeners to make updates. To date, the garden has received new fencing, a new loading area with a ramp, and a new picnic area for gatherings and presentations.

Upcoming improvements include creating a communal herb garden to free up space in rented plots, planting new citrus trees, and improving pathways throughout the garden.

The project is partially funded by a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant. These grants, issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provide federal funding for projects that aim to improve the quality of life for neighborhoods with low and moderate incomes, as identified by U.S. Census data.

The remaining $450,000 of the project is funded by the city’s general fund.