Construction will begin on Monday, June 29, on a dramatically improved intersection in Downtown Long Beach, followed by a new park, near the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) and Alamitos Avenues, and 6th and 7th Streets.
“We’ve been working on this project for several years, and it’s extremely exciting to see it coming to fruition,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Not only are we adding needed green space to this dense neighborhood, we’re making one of our busiest intersections much safer. It’s a huge win for this community.”
The following street improvements will occur:
• 6th and 7th Streets will be reconfigured to allow two-way traffic between Alamitos and Atlantic Avenues.
• MLK will be closed to vehicular traffic between 6th and 7th Streets, where the new park will be built.
• The southern terminus of MLK will end at 7th Street.
• Traffic on 6th Street will be allowed to cross Alamitos Avenue in both directions (and continue to turn north and south).
“We are very excited to improve traffic flow and make it safer and easier for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to get around,” said Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez. “The new park will improve the quality of life for approximately 32,000 residents who live within a half-mile radius of the intersection.”
The 36,590 square-foot neighborhood park will be called Robert Gumbiner Park, and will include a performance area, children’s play areas, skate plaza, shade structures, gathering spaces and public art pieces donated by the nearby Museum of Latin American Art
(MoLAA) and Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
. The park also incorporates sustainability design features that include reuse of recycled pavement, natural stormwater retention and filtration system, large canopied trees and a new green space in a fully built-out area.
The improvements will also incorporate additional landscaping, improved drainage system, new bus stops, and new sidewalks that meet current disabled access regulations.
The street project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, and the new park is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
During construction, street sweeping enforcement will be temporarily suspended on adjacent side streets. Lane closures will be required, and while the roads will stay open during working hours, motorists can expect some traffic delays. Therefore, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes during construction.
The City is working closely with Long Beach Transit to minimize impacts to bus patrons.
In 2010, the City applied for and was awarded a $900,000 federal grant from Caltrans through their Highway Safety Improvement Program to improve traffic circulation in the area. In 2011, the City applied for the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program and was awarded $2.83 million to develop the park.
On June 9, 2015, the Long Beach City Council agreed with recommendations from the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Housing and Neighborhoods Committee, and voted unanimously to name the park in honor of Dr. Robert Gumbiner, a health care pioneer and philanthropist who opened the nearby Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in 1996. Mayor Garcia sponsored the original City Council agenda item.
As a doctor and an administrator, Dr. Gumbiner guided the growth of his small medical practice into one of the largest HMO's in the country, FHP International. Despite his success, Dr. Gumbiner insisted that his business "provide the most care to the most people for the least amount of money."
Dr. Gumbiner made additional contributions to Long Beach’s cultural and artistic legacy by founding the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, which opened in October 2010, 21 months after he died in January 2009 at the age of 85.