Leadbetter Beach Park Reopens After Major Turf Renovation and Additional Improvements

Leadbetter Beach Park (Courtesy)

The park received its first turf renovation in almost 60 years, new public barbecues, and refreshed landscaping

The City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department has reopened Leadbetter Beach Park after a 12-week closure for park improvements. The project included the park’s first turf renovation since its development in 1965. It required a complete regrading of the park’s grassy areas to create a safer, more level surface before installing 1.2 acres of new grass.

Kikuyu, the new grass variety selected for Leadbetter Beach, grows deep roots and requires less surface watering once the root system is established. The variety is also salt tolerant and hardy, which should help it withstand the heavy, year-round use the beachfront park receives. The warm weather grass is expected to yellow whenever temperatures drop below 40° and the grass goes dormant, but the deep roots should allow new growth to come in green as temperatures warm again.

The recent cool, wet weather did impact the turf project, with the growth of the fungus fusarium leading to brown circular patches on the grass. Fusarium is harmless to humans and pets and occurs naturally in many locations across the region. When fusarium impacts turf areas in City parks, staff wait for the fungus to die back naturally before applying more seed to fill bare patches. No fungicides or herbicides were used at any point during the turf renovation process.

The turf renovation was part of an ongoing initiative by the Parks and Recreation Department to invest in the safety, function, and beauty of the City’s public green spaces after use surged during the pandemic and remains at a record high.

“A lot of work goes into maintaining the turf on our athletic fields, but we don’t often have the chance to give the same attention to our passive parks used by so many people in the community,” said Parks Manager Simon Herrera. “We are excited to see this park filled with activity again, and hope people enjoy the improvements.”

The park received additional upgrades during the closure, including the installation of 14 new barbecues, one for each picnic site, and refreshed landscaping. The City’s Forestry staff also used the closure to prune the park’s Canary Island date palms.

The turf renovation was funded by the America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provided state and local governments with funding to invest in programs and services heavily impacted by the pandemic. The Parks and Recreation Department selected parks to receive ARPA-funded turf renovations based on heavy use, turf condition, and regular funding to maintain the renovation once completed. Renovations at Alameda Park, Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, Chase Palm Park, Mission Historical Park, Oak Park, and Willowglen Park were completed in 2023.

The additional park improvements were funded by the Parks Division budget, allocated within the City’s general fund.

The City’s Waterfront Department is expected to renovate nearby public restroom facilities for ADA compliance later this year. This will be the first renovation of the facilities since they were constructed in 1969. More information on that project can be found here.

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