On this date in 1975, Seal Beach held an official ground-breaking ceremony for the 12 block long and hundred foot wide park between the lanes of Electric Avenue. The ceremony was held at 8th and Electric Avenue, and a full day of festivities followed.
Mayor Thomas I. McKnew Jr. gave the welcoming address and presided over the driving of the “final spike” in the track that would support the future Red Car Museum. The Leisure World “Barbershoppers” and the J.H. McGaugh School Jazz Band provided musical entertainment.
The Greenbelt, as most local call it, was originally a Pacific Electric right-of-way for the Long Beach-Newport Pacific Electric red car line from 1904 to 1948. The tracks were removed in 1966, leaving only a rock bed of small granite rocks and a few stray railroad spikes to be found by the occasional souvenir seeker.
Many concepts were proposed for the property, including public parking lots, canals, housing developments, a strip of apartment duplexes, and a bike trail. A committee was appointed in 1970 to settle on an ideal solution after a crowd of five hundred citizens showed up at a public hearing to oppose residential development of the strip. After five years of countless meetings and decisions, the city decisively settled on using the land as a park with a new library/senior center, mini plazas, the Red Car Museum, walkways, and trees.
– Michael Dobkins