Huntington Beach firefighters train at Rodgers Senior Center

Huntington Beach Firefighters training atop the old Rodgers Senior Center roof. Photo by Chris MacDonald

People have noticed a lot of firefighters at the soon-to-be-demolished Rodgers Senior Center at 1706 Orange Ave., Huntington Beach. They’ve been cutting holes in the roof and doing all sorts of training exercises that have drawn the attention of many folks near the busy intersection of Orange Avenue and 17th Street.

“Our crews are rotating through the structure, training on fire hose deployment, search and rescue and vertical ventilation procedures,” said Marine Safety/Fire Division Chief Eric McCoy.

“You also may see our Urban Search and Rescue team doing exercises at the old Senior Center. The use of such structures for training purposes is rare and provides the crews the opportunity to conduct real world training away from the normal grounds at the Central Net Training Center on Gothard Street, near Ellis Avenue,” he said.

“The Rodgers location allows crews to practice their skills on older type of construction that is common in the downtown area. The crews will attempt to rotate through, depending on call volume and other daily responsibilities,” he said.

The building will be demolished soon to make way for a Neighborhood Park.

Former two-time Huntington Beach Mayor Peter Green, who has a doctoral degree in Ecology and is a retired Golden West College professor, said, “It’s very important to have more parks in the city. It’s much-needed for residents and visitors to this area. It’s good Huntington has a solid financial foundation to create this new park.” Green, 96, often visits a park named after him on Seagate Drive, with his wife, former two-time Huntington Beach Mayor Cathy Green.

Carlos Gomez, who owns Fiesta Grill, across the street from the future park, said, “I look forward to the park and my customers enjoying it.”

Longtime resident Anita Cizek, who used to take ukulele  lessons at the old Senior Center, said, “Parks really help bring communities together. I’m thrilled to hear about this.”

The original Rodgers Senior Center building was once a Santa Ana Army Base structure, purchased by the City of Huntington Beach and moved to the current site in 1949. There were no nearby residences, just oil wells when it opened. Now, the over 2 acre site is surrounded by homes and businesses.

The new public park is expected to open in March, 2023. It will include lawn, walking paths, a renovated clubhouse for community use and added picnic seating areas. For more information, visit this link to watch a You Tube video from a recent ceremony about the park’s creation: