The city of Palm Springs celebrated the grand opening of its new Downtown Park Thursday night.
Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the grand opening. Mayor Christy Holstege said it will be a central park for Palm Springs. "We know that our residents are going to enjoy this park for decades to come and we're so grateful to make this investment to our community," she said.
An oasis just a block from busy Palm Canyon Drive, the park sits on 1.5 acres next to Forever Marilyn and the Art Museum.
"You can just exit down the main street over two blocks and you can be having a picnic or sitting under a tree reading a book," said Marilyn Penn. "I think it's the best thing they could have come up with!"
The park is filled with shade provided by dozens of palm trees. Benches and tables are positioned throughout, and public unisex bathrooms with an outdoor hand-washing station sit next to a new Palm Springs police substation, allowing officers a new downtown location to monitor the city from.
A water feature with mist, fountains and a waterfall from above give families and kids the option to cool off in a fun, interactive way. The city says it was inspired by Tahquitz and Indian canyons at the base of Mt. San Jacinto. Park designer Mark Rios said he drew inspiration from the natural beauty of Palm Springs.
"We've really tried to look at what the natural influences were of this place: water, the shade, the palms, the soil, the form of the mountains, and how do we make an experience out of that," Rios said.
Many at the celebration waved signs with the face of Nellie Koffman, who founded The Desert Inn in 1909 on the spot where the park is now. The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation is pushing for the park to be named after her.
"She kind of established everything that Palm Springs is well known for now and we just think it's fitting and a no-brainer to name the park for her, the founding mother of Palm Springs," said Steven Keylon.
In the park's new amphitheater, the evening closed with a concert from ABBA tribute band 'ABBAFab.'
The park was originally estimated to cost about $7.6 million. It was paid for in large part, city officials said, using Measure J funds, a city tax that has brought in millions of dollars for improvements in Palm Springs.