Colorado Lagoon History

The area is part of Recreation Park purchased in 1923 from the San Gabriel River Improvement Company after passage of a bond issue by Long Beach voters. The Lagoon is approximately half land area and half open salt-water area. Originally open to the northwest end of Alamitos Bay, a bulkhead and tide gate installed in 1929 allowed the construction of Colorado Street across the corner of Alamitos Bay. The tide gate controlled water depths, allowing high diving competitions. A multi-story diving platform, used in the 1932 Olympic Trials, was used until the 1950's.

The site has a sandy swimming beach with restrooms, turf picnic areas and parking on the north and south shores. A small building used as a model boat shop and adjacent pre-school cooperative has existed since 1948, and was remodeled and expanded in 2008. A concession stand built in the 1960's, and not used since the 1980's was converted to a Marine Science Center operated by the Friends of the Colorado Lagoon.

The site's popularity as a swimming site diminished after water circulation was impaired in the 1960's when the open channel was replaced by a 900-foot long underground culvert for the "cross-town" freeway. After plans for the freeway terminated in 1970, the site was developed as Marina Vista Park. With tidal flushing diminished and 11 storm drain lines discharging into the Lagoon, water quality diminished until the Lagoon was designated as an "impaired water body" by the State of California in 2002.

Spurred by the Friends of Colorado Lagoon, plans to improve the Lagoon's water quality and native habitat have been underway since the Coastal Conservancy funded a restoration feasibility study completed 2004. The EIR on improvement plans was certified in 2008. The first phase of restoration construction was scheduled for the fall of 2009 until the "freeze" on State funded grants was put in place in December 2008. A Los Angeles County funded storm drain improvement project will divert 40% of storm water input around the Lagoon to discharge into Marine Stadium. This Termino Avenue Drain project began construction in the fall of 2009.

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