H-SANTA MARIA

Dec 10, 2013 7:04 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Community group hopes to revitalize Santa Maria's oldest city park

Neighbors and police say one of Santa Maria's oldest city parks has become a transient hangout spot, so there's a grassroots effort to revitalize it. Buena Vista Park is Santa Maria's first city park. It's about 4-acres and sits right next to Santa Maria High School. Neighbors say dozens of people use the park every day but there are some problems they want fixed and the group that is leading the charge calls itself the Buena Vista Beautifiers. "I don't think this park needs to be the hub of the community again, but it certainly can be the hub of this community," said Kelly White, Santa Maria resident. White and her son come to Buena Vista Park almost every morning. She has never felt unsafe but says the park needs a new image. "I think it can make a big impact for a lot of families if there were more resources and if this was a more inviting, spruced-up and attractive park like it used to be," said White. White and other local residents have joined forces with city leaders and the Santa Maria Police Department to find solutions. One of the main concerns is transients sleeping in the park. "If they are out in the park laying in the sun and looking at the sky or whatever that's perfectly acceptable, but it's when they stay overnight and start using the facilities that we have here and start abusing the facilities," said Officer Andrew Brice, Santa Maria Police Department. Buena Vista Park is part of Officer Brice's beat. His concern is how sometimes it's being used. "Maybe they have alcohol or drug issues and they bring that to the park that is a big concern for us. If they are here at night either drinking or hanging out the next day kids come to play here and we want to make sure it's safe for the kids," said Officer Price. So the plan is to bring it back to life. White says her community group is still in the early stages, but is looking for private money and grants to fix up the park and some of their key projects is putting in new playground equipment and adding additional picnic space.

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