Manhattan Beach's Sand Dune Park reopened Monday amid enthusiasm from fitness buffs and concern from some locals who fear that the noise, traffic and pollution that caused the park to close a year ago would return.
The popular park closed last summer due to complaints by a number of residents who saw an increase in litter and traffic invade their neighborhood. A giant 300 foot hill provides an intense workout challenge for those eager to traverse up the steep incline.
To deal with the crowds, the city of Manhattan Beach created an online reservation system, at a charge of $3.50 per person per hour.
East L.A. resident Thomas Rees made reservations earlier in the morning and was playing with his 9-year-old daughter Skye at the bottom of the hill.
“My daughter and I are going to race each other,” Rees said as he eagerly awaited his 3 p.m. appointment time to use the park.
Rees heard about Sand Dune Park from a co-worker who said the workout would be more challenging than any other hiking trail in L.A.
Jennifer Petrilla was also excited to use the park
“We've been wanting it to open since June,” said Petrilla, 34, who moved to Manhattan Beach a month ago with her husband and children. “It's nice because my kids and I can work out at the same time.”
Manhattan Beach resident Suzanne Hadley, 46, lives around the corner from the park and hoped the online system benefits both the neighborhood and park users.
“I'm fine with the park opening and hopeful that this compromise will help both sides,” Hadley said, adding that she was still concerned about the potential noise.
Betty Newton, who lives across the street from Hadley, was not as optimistic.
“I just don't like it,” Newton said. “It's been getting progressively worse since they started climbing the hill 10 years ago.”
Newton has lived near Sand Dune Park since 1948 and helped build it with her husband and other locals. Last year, she joined other residents demanding that the Manhattan Beach City Hall close the park because of the increase in litter and noise.
The Weekly later caught up with Rees, who was running down the hill with his daughter.
“It was worth it to make the drive from East L.A.,” Rees said, out of breath. “I'm gonna make another run right now.”