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‘Don’t feed the birds’: El Dorado Park duck pond reopens after multi-million dollar facelift

About 400 turtles and more than 200 fish were relocated as part of the project.

‘Don’t feed the birds’: El Dorado Park duck pond reopens after multi-million dollar facelift
A couple walks around the El Dorado duck pond following a grand reopening event Thursday, June 27, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

For 22 months, chain link fences have lined the El Dorado Park duck pond as it underwent millions of dollars worth of improvements. On Thursday, dozens of officials and community members celebrated the grand reopening of the serene park space.

“I’m just stunned by how beautiful it is,” Mayor Rex Richardson said during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The renovation included a new walking path, now separated from the water by buffer zones featuring native plants, and enlarged wetlands and forebays. A new water circulation system, including new filtration and disinfection systems, was installed, which will improve water quality and provide reclaimed water to the adjacent golf course, reducing the use of potable water, according to the city.

Luke Skyducker, 3, celebrates the grand reopening of the El Dorado duck pond Thursday, June 27, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

City officials credited residents for the project, saying they were relentless in pointing out various issues with the space.

“They care about this duck pond, they keep a watchful eye on it,” Brent Dennis, director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, said. “And they have my phone number, and I hear from them whenever there's a concern.”

Construction began in September 2022 and was expected to be completed by late last year. But heavy rains the last couple of winters delayed the project, according to Public Works Bureau Manager Marilyn Surakus. The pond ultimately had to be drained three times, rather than one, she said.


Brandon Richardson was laid off by the Long Beach Post on March 22. Thank him for continuing to cover Long Beach without pay.


After the pond was drained the first time, Long Beach Animal Control relocated 400 turtles and over 200 fish, which had to go through a cleaning and quarantine process, Surakus said. Some of the koi fish that were removed now call Knott’s Berry Farm home, she added.

It's unclear exactly how much the project cost the city as there are discrepancies in information online and what was said during Thursday's event.

According to the city website, the project cost just over $10.1 million, with nearly $4.38 million coming from the city's Measure A sales tax. Richardson, however, listed off funding sources Thursday that would total nearly $12 million when added to the Measure A monies.

Other sources, according to Richardson, include $3 million from the state Land and Water Conservation Fund, $2.8 million from Measure W (a countywide property tax to fund stormwater capture and treatment projects), $1 million from Long Beach Utilities, $300,000 from Proposition A (a county sales tax to fund park projects) and $500,000 from the city’s Public Works Department.

Owen Gustafson, 3, walks around the El Dorado duck pond ahead of a grand reopening event Thursday, June 27, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

During his remarks, Dennis said he would like to see a community volunteer group step up to offer education docent walks to school children, teaching them about the ecosystem and spreading awareness that ducks and other birds should not be fed by the public as it is unhealthy.

Dennis also noted that there are no fish in the pond and fishing is not permitted, nor is swimming.

“It’s really about the community,” Richardson said. “This is a wonderful space that we have for our community to enjoy the beauty of our local nature.”

Geese hang around the El Dorado duck pond for which officials and community members celebrated a grand reopening Thursday, June 27, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.
A man rides his bike around the El Dorado duck pond during a grand reopening event Thursday, June 27, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.
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