A project to renovate LeRoy Park & Community Center in Guadalupe received a large contribution as part of a capital campaign to help pay for some features not covered by grants.
The city recently received a $250,000 anonymous donation that significantly pushed the community toward the campaign target of $585,000. As of last week, the city had raised $439,000.
“We are thrilled to partner with the people of Guadalupe in support of this project to revitalize LeRoy Park and maintain it as a centerpiece for recreational and cultural life for generations to come,” the anonymous donor said.
“LeRoy Park is a great investment with excellent people and a smart plan, and we would like to thank everyone involved.”
Located at the western end of 11th Street, LeRoy Park and its community center have long served as the town’s nucleus, hosting events ranging from quinceañeras, barbecues, outdoor concerts and car shows to the Comité Cívico Mexicano de Guadalupe’s annual “Fiestas Patrias” celebrating Mexican Independence Day each September.
The Fiestas Patrias parade once ended at LeRoy Park but stopped a decade ago due to the park’s condition.
“Everything happened in LeRoy Park,” said Thomas Brandeberry, president of Los Amigos de Guadalupe.
He said he frequently hears stories about the role the park played in the lives of generations of residents.
“It (the capital campaign) is also critical because LeRoy Park is close to the downtown of Guadalupe and, since nobody goes to LeRoy Park anymore, less people go to the downtown,” Brandeberry said.
“It’s kind of an early start to one of the projects that we see is critical to the redevelopment of the downtown to get more people physically in that downtown area.”
Founded in 1871, LeRoy Park is the oldest community park in Santa Barbara County. It had long been operated and maintained by the county, which eventually relinquished it to the city.
In October 2018, Guadalupe received a $4.5 million Community Development Block Grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development with $4.1 million set aside for the renovation project.
The design process started in late 2018 with a meeting to discuss what the community wanted to see at the park.
In 2020, Guadalupe received an additional $900,000, fully funding the community center.
Last summer, the city awarded a $4 million construction contract to Grover Beach-based Quincon Inc.
Since construction costs have increased in the three-year period between the submission of the grant application and the first day of construction, the two grants didn’t cover all of the park’s planned features.
That led to a second phase of the project, estimated at $1.5 million, with $585,000 included in the capital campaign to raise funds for features like picnic areas, adult exercise areas and playground structures.
The focus is on “putting back what was there, but better,” Brandeberry said.
As of late last week, $439,000 had been raised toward the goal.
“If we end up going over it’s not the end of the world because there’s more things we can do with the park,” Brandeberry said, citing as one possibility distance learning equipment for the community center.
Donation options include $300 for memorial trees, $500 for memorial bricks and various amounts for naming rights. Donors have filled all requests for memorial benches at $1,100 each.
Plans calls for the park and community center to be completed in November.