Developer expects Rivers End Park to be complete by end of October

City manager expects park to be turned over to Seal Beach sometime after first of year

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Work continues at River’s End Park on First Street. Photo by Ted Apodaca

Work on the River’s End Park, on First Street, should be complete by the end the month, according to Cory Yoder, community development director for Shea Homes. The park is adjacent to the Ocean Place development (on the former DWP property).

“We are projecting completion toward the end of October,” Yoder wrote this week.

When will the park be turned over to the city of Seal Beach?

“The turnover process is dictated by the City,” Yoder wrote.

“We are hoping to begin the process by the beginning of November, but I will defer to the City on how long they think the process will take,” Yoder wrote in an Oct. 5 email.

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick said the last information he had was that Shea Homes was obligated to fully landscape the park.

“Currently Shea Homes, along with the Ocean Place project inspector and the City’s arborist, are monitoring the recent planting of landscape throughout the new park,” wrote City Manager Jill Ingram on Oct. 6.

“Given that it is estimated it will take approximately three months for the landscape to acclimate and establish properly in its new environment, the City estimates right now the River’s End Park will be ready to turn over to the City sometime after the first of the year,” Ingram wrote.

“Having said that, the City will not accept ownership until it is determined that all requirements of the Coastal Development Permit have been met with respect to the park, including a landscape palate that is healthy and established.  Therefore, we can provide another update before the end of the year on the progress and condition of the landscape in order to be able to better confirm a more specific timeline for taking ownership of the park,” Ingram wrote.

Kalmick said city staff wants to wait for the plants there to take hold before they take down the fence surrounding the property.

Kalmick said rabbits and squirrels have been eating some plants as quickly as they have been planted.

“As with any landscaping project, some plants do not do as well in their new environment as others. Part of the turnover process is to identify these plants and replace them as needed,” Yoder wrote.

According to Kalmick, the city wants to make sure that Shea Homes meets its obligations in the park.

“At this point there’s no urgency to get it open,” Kalmick said.

In related news, the state of California just last week authorized the reopening of outdoor playgrounds (such as the River’s End Park tot lot).

The park includes a water basin. “It receives all of the storm drain flows from our development as well as a portion of 1st Street prior to discharging into the San Gabriel River. It is a component of our Water Quality Management Plan that was approved by both the Coastal Commission and the City of Seal Beach,” Yoder wrote.

Sun reader Roman Torres observed what appeared to him to be a rock formation.

“What you’re referring to is the play structure in the tot lot,” Yoder wrote.

“It is a rock with two nets connected to it for children to climb on. There is a rubberized play surface surrounding the play structure. This was built per the landscape plans that were approved by both the Coastal Commission and the City of Seal Beach,” Yoder wrote.

As the Sun reported in February of this year, a 2018 Seal Beach City Council resolution gives Shea Homes until Nov. 13, 2020 to complete all improvements to the property.

As reported in the Feb. 6, 2020, print edition of the Sun, California Coastal Commission approvals going back to 2015, the park and the houses in the “Ocean Place” development have been built concurrently.

That apparently changed during a March 2015 Coastal Commission meeting, according to a 500-page document provided by then-property owners Bay City Partners to coastal staff.

The quoted Sherilyn Sarb of the Coastal Commission staff, as referring to a condition proposing that the park be completed before occupancy of the houses or before the final inspection for the building permit for the first house.

“Because the housing units weren’t being constructed as part of this permit, we didn’t think that would be appropriate; so we negotiated that that would be prior to the city’s acceptance of the — the public improvements,” Sarb said.

For more on the history of the area, visit sunnews.org and look up “Shea Homes says park ‘on track’ for summer completion” (February 2020) and  “Park construction on former DWP land to begin in November” (July 2018).