The Port of San Diego and the city are celebrating a new jewel on the waterfront. The newest gem is Ruocco Park, the Port of San Diego’s 18th dedicated public park overlooking San Diego Bay and the city’s downtown skyline.
More than 150 people, including City, County and Port dignitaries, gathered on Thursday, September 18, 2012, along the waterfront at the corner of North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway for the grand opening of the 3.3-acre park that one downtown resident described as an extension of her backyard.
“It’s a spectacular park,” said Lee Burdick, a member of the Board of Port Commissioners, who served as the mistress of ceremonies.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders congratulated the Port for “taking advantage of one of the most beautiful locations on San Diego Bay.”
San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria called Ruocco a “phenomenal park, a jewel on the waterfront,” while San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer predicted that hundreds of thousands of people will be drawn to the picturesque location every year.
Visitors entering the park from North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway will walk under, "The Riparium," a sculptural gateway of eucalyptus tree branches that nationally recognized and local artist Roman de Salvo fashioned together, suspending them by cables anchored to masts that are reminiscent of sailboats on San Diego Bay.
Guests can walk along landscaped walkways or romp on the hybrid Bermuda grass that fills the park.
The park is named after Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco. Mr. Ruocco was a prominent San Diego architect, who designed dozens of private homes around the region and worked on several prominent public buildings, including the County Administration Building.
Mrs. Ruocco was a noted interior decorator and professor of art at San Diego State University.
More than 25 years ago, the couple established a trust with the vision of creating a public park in San Diego, one that would feature outstanding urban design. The trust is administered by the San Diego Foundation, which awarded the Port a $3.5 million grant from the Ruocco Fund to help pay for the park.
The Port contributed $3.8 million for the park from its Capital Improvement Program.
Following the ceremony, Marilyn Marx and her neighbors from a downtown high-rise enjoyed a picnic lunch in the park.
“We think it’s wonderful,” Marx said of the park. “This is our extended backyard…what more could we ask for.”
Note: Leashed dogs are allowed at the park.
About the Port:
The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California. It was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in public improvements in its five member cities: Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.
The port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 18 public parks, the Harbor Police Department and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.
The Port of San Diego is an economic engine, an environmental steward of San Diego Bay and the surrounding tidelands, and a provider of community services and public safety.