Once privately owned by Lockheed Corp., Robert E. Gross Park will make its debut next month as a public facility, but with a jury-rigged irrigation system and cracked asphalt, and without playground equipment.
When the deed to the park was handed over by Lockheed officials in a December ceremony, Burbank officials were delighted with the gift and budgeted $200,000 to make repairs. But after acquiring ownership, the city discovered that it would take up to $700,000 to fix everything needed, Parks and Recreation Director Mary Alvord said Friday.
The park has for years been a popular spot for large groups, events and company picnics. The schedule for this summer is already filling up. Rather than close the facility for the summer, Alvord said the city has opted to complete the major repairs in the fall.
"We have to sit down and figure out what exactly we have to do," she said. Playground equipment had to be removed because it did not meet the standards for a public facility. Asphalt in a picnic area has been cracked and warped by tree roots. Fencing needs to be replaced, and at first it seemed like the irrigation system for the ball fields would not work.
"We thought we were going to have to water the fields by hand," Alvord said. Officials were able to temporarily fix the system so it can last until major repairs can be made.
The city had planned to use the ball fields for league games this year, but instead the fields will be used only as practice fields or for T-ball, she said.
Alvord said she hoped to replace the playground equipment so that it meets the standards for a public park, which includes handicapped accessibility.
The 4.8-acre park is named for the founder of Lockheed, who had been chairman until his death in 1967. Lockheed began a pullout from Burbank in 1990, moving nearly all of its operations to either Palmdale or Georgia.