The City of Santa Monica has received a $1.5 million grant from the State of California to purchase synthetic turf for the sports fields at the planned Airport Park, according to Karen Ginsberg, Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services assistant director.

Located within the Santa Monica Airport property, Airport Park will consist of 8.3 acres of non-aviation land and is fully funded at $5.4 million.

Park construction is slated to begin late this spring with completion of the park anticipated next summer.

The plan for Airport Park calls for two lighted sports fields — predominantly for soccer — a landscaped picnic and children’s playground area, an off-leash dog area, a park restroom building, a walking and jogging path and on-site parking for 116 vehicles.

Dogs will have the opportunity to play off-leash in an area of less than one acre that will provide separate sections for small and big dogs, with a greater portion dedicated to larger dogs.

The city had explored the use of turf in this area but due to the intensity of use in dog parks less than two acres in size, the city determined that grass maintenance would be too time-consuming and will use small-gauge wood chips for the main dog surface.

Although plans did not initially include public art, an artist has been selected to create artwork for the park. In the invitational competition, three locally-based jurors each gave the Santa Monica Public Art Committee a list of five artists from Santa Monica or Venice they felt would create artwork appropriate for the site.

The jury pool of 15 artists submitted slides to the committee of past work and a written statement on how they would approach the project.

Three artists were selected to develop a proposal and were each paid $500. The Public Art Committee chose artist Jeremy Kidd, with final approval given by the Santa Monica Arts Commission.

Kidd says he heard about the project through a colleague in the art world.

“When I was selected through the process of invitation to create a proposal, which led to my winning the commission, I was quite surprised,” Kidd says.

Though this is his first public project, Kidd has been doing sculpture for some years and has proposed public pieces conceptually in external photographic environments.

“I am very honored to be able to fulfill such a project and hope to bring something exciting to the environment,” he says.

Kidd adds that he and the city are still making final decisions about the design. He will then work with the landscape architect to see how the art can be worked into the overall design of the area.

Rob Trimborn, Santa Monica airport manager, says plans for the park are 99 percent complete and he adds that the playground and walking paths will create a very nice environment at the park.

Commenting on the recent conflict regarding the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus and airport access, Trimborn says the college’s remote lot at the Santa Monica Airport is right where the park is to be built.

Trimborn says that the only issue is that the college wants to use the Airport Avenue access road as the primary road, and since the college’s original plans have changed and student attendance has grown, this has the potential to alter traffic and parking at Airport Park.

After the Northridge Earthquake, the college used the remote lot while the main college parking structure was repaired. The college operates the remote lot on a month-to-month tenancy basis.

Trimborn says the college knew that once Airport Park was in progress, the college would have to cease operating at the remote lot.

Since the Northridge quake, Santa Monica College attendance has grown and it now needs the space, according to Trimborn. He says the college is 260 parking spaces shy of meeting parking demand at the new Bundy Campus and the college is now talking of building a parking structure for the Bundy Campus and wants to use Airport Avenue as the main access road.

The concern is that with unfettered access and if the college doesn’t have enough parking to handle the student capacity, it could severely affect the functioning of Airport Park.

Trimborn’s responsibility extends to the many tenants at the airport and he says, “It’s important that the airport continue to provide adequate parking and access to the airport for the many non-aviation tenants.”

Whatever the outcome of this issue, Ginsberg says as far as Airport Park is concerned, “We’re moving forward with our construction and proposal documents.”

Julie Kirst can be reached at