After a nearly two-year delay, Pelican Park will officially open Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The approximately one-acre park, located on the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive between the 6533 and 6547 residencies, cost $351,000 to complete and was the result of a collaboration between the county, who owns the land, the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District and several other agencies.
Plans for park construction were submitted to the county zoning administration December 1, 1999, and the date of completion was set at the end of May 2001. However, due to rain and permit restrictions, construction of the park did not start until August 11, 2000.
The IVRPD and Santa Barbara County hired Susan Van Atta, a landscape architect for the Van Atta Association, to design the floral landscape for the park. Van Atta said the park contains plants which are native to the Channel Islands, allowing park-goers who have never visited the islands to experience them in Isla Vista.
Van Atta said she originally wanted the park to be named Sunset Theater, in reference to the Isla Vista tradition of watching the sunset in the company of friends.
“People like to bring their couches outside. We’ve designed it so they can sit with their feet up high,” Van Atta said. “The park was a very heartfelt project for the IVRPD. They really put their heart and soul into it.”
The park construction was funded by the California Coastal Conservancy, which contributed $51,000, UCSB, which contributed $10,000, the California Resources Agency, which gave $70,000, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, which gave $10,000, the IVRPD, which contributed $200,000 and Santa Barbara County, which gave $10,000.
“Part of the excitement is that the county owns the property, and we have been able to collaborate with the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District to develop one acre of park right on the bluff. That was the goal of the redevelopment agency when the county purchased the property, and now the dream of having another beautiful park in I.V. is a reality,” said Mark Chaconas, the assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall.
IVRPD General Manager Derek Johnson said park administrators feel confident in its success.
“Thousands of people are going to come to the park for active and passive recreation,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping that the community of I.V. will respect the quality of workmanship and art elements. This park is gonna be a real diamond in the rough. It’s a jewel.”