Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wardlow Park, Huntington Beach

Wardlow Park is both a well-tended Huntington Beach park and a somewhat scraggly, unloved, leftover Fountain Valley school property. There is no clear fence, so the boundaries are only apparent when one looks at the ground and notes the beginning of the sprayed, dying weeds.

And, with no clear boundary, they look like one unit, so I treated as one on my visit (I did not find out about the Fountain Valley part until later). So: The front side is mostly a nice, smooth green lawn with just one little hillock near Magnolia. There is also a good portion devoted to baseball diamonds which is both well-tended and confusingly labeled as school property, so I do not actually know who owns which or why. The articles I ran across in a web search when I was trying to clear things up were not entirely helpful, either: Fountain Valley sold at least some school property to Huntington Beach and that became part of Wardlow Park. I can't tell whether or not they sold all the property, so I don't know how the unloved part is categorized.

Anyway, the Wardlow Park that I saw is a long stretch of property along Magnolia and Adams that extends back quite a distance. The first part has the baseball diamonds and also a nice, sandy playground (standard yellow and red climber) with swings and lots of room to play.

It also, unusually, has a drinking fountain, but I wouldn't count on it as a source of water. When I was there, the fountain had been stopped up and looked distinctly gross. Also, there was a brown widow web on the underside of the faucet with four egg sacs. This really isn't a problem, in a lot of ways, since widow and drinkers are unlikely to come into contact, but, despite my general love of spiders, it did contribute to the "Ick!" factor.

The restrooms may or may not have been connected to the park and may or may not have been open; they were sort of "eh" looking so I got all picky and finicky and didn't try the doors. Sorry, folks. It happens.

They were in the unloved area, near the school, in a place where the grass is mowed and herbicide occasionally applied, but where the maintenance has clearly been dialed down to near-minimal. There's a sad-looking basketball court back there, and the day I visited, several someones had clearly spent quite some time amusing themselves by breaking glass on the asphalt. No one had been by to sweep or to clear up the trash accumulated in the leftover (soccer? Look, I don't do sports) goal nearby. There was a really attractive tree back there, but someone had been draping stuff in it, and the school yard had been turned into a makeshift dog park (Can't blame anyone there. What else is it being used for?)

The nice, clear, pretty green of Wardlow Park proper.

The first look at the park stretching back and back.

A phoebe keeping an eye on things.

The old, boarded-up school, looking very sad and out of place.

The park department generally takes very good care of things, so I wonder who is meant to be looking after this?

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