County Celebrates Opening of New Waterfront Park

Entire community is invited to day-long celebration

Fireworks boomed, scissors snipped a 1,600 foot-long ribbon and fountains of water soared up toward the sky on May 10 – all hailing the opening of the County’s new Waterfront Park downtown.

The County’s newest park features an expansive civic green along the entire western side of the park with room for 3,900 people on the north lawn and 2,900 on the south lawn, grand promenades and an elevated terrace that wraps around the west side of the building. A spectacular 830-foot-long fountain runs nearly the length of the 12-acre park and its jets shoot water up to 14 feet into the air. The fountain’s basins create an inch-deep splash area for children.


During the opening ceremony, I spoke about my dream of returning a parking lot to the people as a park and the idea’s many supporters.


Fireworks went off simultaneous to the cutting of the 1,600 foot long ribbon and the fountains coming on. This photo was taken from the mast of the Star of India.

Instead of cars, visitors are now finding three theme gardens, 218 trees, lawns, picnic tables and more. A large, and uniquely equipped, playground is proving to be even more popular than expected. Families have already begun reserving picnic tables for birthdays.

The park’s environmental features include two gardens with drought-tolerant plants,  drip irrigation rings for the trees and planting beds to reduce water usage. Instead of concrete, the walking paths make use of decomposed granite, minimizing stormwater runoff.

The fountain is the park’s most eye-catching feature. It uses 80,000 gallons of water that is stored in an underground reservoir and reused over and over again. The water is treated constantly so it remains safe to the public. The fountain operates in four modes: as a reflecting pond with about an inch of water in the basins, in jet mode with only the water jets in operation, pond and jet mode at the same time, and completely empty.

The historic County Administration Center remains at the heart of the park. The building was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. His son, James, re-dedicated the building during the 50th anniversary celebration in 1988.

For the May 10 opening, James’ widow, Mary Roosevelt, addressed the crowd. “Both FDR and Jim had very strong connections to San Diego,” Mrs. Roosevelt said. “They would have loved this occasion, seeing this wonderful park come to fruition.”


The ribbon is cut and the park
officially open for fun.

As the last speaker at the ceremony to officially open the park, I closed with one of my favorite quotes from the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded.”

With this park, I think Emerson would conclude we have succeeded. I am immensely proud, and grateful, to have been part of a Board of Supervisors that showed how a dream that began 15 years ago can become reality.


This climbing structure has
proven very popular.

The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and people interested in reserving a spot for weddings, company events and birthday parties can call County Parks and Recreation at (619) 232-PARK (7275) or stop by the new Parks office on the southwest side of the building.

The building’s parking lot is underground on Ash Street between Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. During business hours, members of the public visiting the County Administration Center for business – such as obtaining a passport or getting married – can get up to three free hours of parking in the garage. The Cedar Station on the trolley line is across the street from the park.

Hours for the fountains vary, but are typically from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the fountains open to public splashing until 8 p.m.

The most up-to-date information on the County Waterfront Park can be found here:

Please visit and have a good time. This is your park. This is your waterfront.



This is a shot from the fourth-floor balcony outside the cafeteria.


Another shot from the cafeteria, this one focusing on the playground.


This photo shows the north end of the park, the portion facing
the intersection of Grape Street and Harbor Drive, just as
demolition of the old Askew Building was starting and what the
view looks like today.


A panoramic version of the opening day.