(Oct. 29, 2006) -- Civic VIPs, LB police and fire personnel and community members gathered in the 2000 block of Pasadena Ave. on October 28 for the grand opening of Officer Daryle W. Black Memorial Park. The event included the unveiling of an emotionally powerful statue of Officer Black, who was killed in the line of duty in April 2000 not far from the park site.
The statue, purchased for the public at a cost of $25,000 by the Long Beach Police Officers Ass'n, is near the park's entrance. It shows Officer Black seated, keeping watch over neighborhood children (whose company he dearly enjoyed). The statue immediately attracted more children...a sight that left some adults with moist eyes.
In remarks at the ceremony, 6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson said creating the park in Officer Black's honor was a promise she made, and kept, to familymembers and the community. (Familymembers and former Mayor Beverly O'Neill are visible in photo, right)
Councilwoman Richardson, who is seeking and expected to win the 55th Assembly seat in November, indicated she'll be delivering a speech in about a month...in which promise, made and kept, would play a role.
Among VIPs and community members we spotted (not a complete list; we apologize for omissions): Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal; Councilmembers Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch; LBCC Board of Trustees president Roberto Uranga; Mayor Bob Foster's Chief of Staff Becki Ames; 8th Council district Chief of Staff Jonathan Kraus; LB Parks, Rec & Marine chief Phil Hester; LB Redevelopment Agency Chair Tom Fields & Boardmember Terry Jensen; LB Firefighters Ass'n President Rich Brandt; LB community activists Dan Pressburg and Maria Norvell...and a large turnout of neighborhood residents.
LB Police Officers Ass'n President Lt. Steve James and LB's Dir. of Parks, Recreation and Marine, Phil Hester.
A respectful contingent of LBPD and LBFD personnel attended.
LB's Mounted Police took part.
Deputy City Manager Reggie Harrison (his son on his shoulder; we pixeled the child's face) said the new park was a project coordinated by multiple city departments along with the city's Redevelopment Agency...and overseen by Councilwoman Richardson.
Police Chief Anthony Batts delivered a powerful tribute to Officer Black. He said LB police officers show their love for Long Beach each day, as Officer Black did. by putting their lives on the line for the city and its residents.
Former Mayor Beverly O'Neill said she was personally invited to speak at the event by Councilwoman Richardson. She said the loss of Officer Black was one of her darkest days...and creating the new park in his honor is a great moment for the city and a fine accomplishment by Councilwoman Richardson.
Redevelopment Agency chair Tom Fields said he was pleased this is the second LB park dedicated recently...and named in honor of a police officer. (LB's new 9th district park is named for LBPD officer Ed "Pops" Davenport.)
LB Police Officers Ass'n President Lt. Steve James said his union's contribution of $25,000 for the statute of Officer Black was unprecedented...and a source of pride for his fellow officers.
Virgia Wade of the Central Neighborhood Advisory Committee credited Councilwoman Richardson with pursuing the park project.
Cornell Black, brother of Officer Daryle Black, thanked the people of Long Beach and city officials for their kindnesses...and the honor they accorded his brother.
Officer Black's niece, Shayla Black, released a flock of doves...
...and familymembers joined officials for the ribbon cutting.
The 120-foot by 50-foot park includes grass, landscaping, lighting, fencing, a playground, picnic table and benches and a water fountain. LB's Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine and the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency jointly funded the $200,000 project with Central Long Beach Redevelopment Project Area and General Purpose Funds. It replaces a dilapidated 12-unit apartment building that once stood on the lot.