City of Santa Ana
Small Project of the Year
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Additional Information


Memory Lane Park, Santa Ana

Project Location:

Memory Lane Park is located in the City of Santa Ana at the intersection of West Memory Lane and the Santa Ana River Trail entrance.

Project Description:

Memory Lane Park is a .465 acre neighborhood park and Trail Rest Stop located adjacent to the Santa Ana River trail.  Development included a themed playground, picnic area, shade structure, exercise / fitness equipment, decomposed granite walkways, a riparian planting area with pedestrian bridges, a river rock dry streambed, security lighting, decorative wrought iron fencing, interpretive signage, bike racks, equestrian hitching posts, water trough for horses, benches, picnic tables, drinking fountain, water bottle filling station, and an entry monument sign.

Project Justification:

The design team prides itself on being good stewards of the land while making environmentally conscious decisions that benefit the community. We worked toward implementing sustainable practices whenever possible. There were a number of opportunities to include ‘green infrastructure’ strategies. Some of these include the implementation of water wise / drought tolerant and California friendly planting to address the State’s water crisis; in addition to the use of inert materials such as decomposed granite, rock cobble and mulch. The riparian landscape included plants such as Palo Verde and Redbud trees; Penstemon, Eremophila, Dianella, Blue Oat Grass, Echeveria, Senecio and Westringia. Shade trees and canopies near the play and fitness areas further control reflective heat and ambient temperatures for park users.

The irrigation system utilizes ‘Smart Irrigation’ technology with point source drip irrigation, moisture and wind sensors, as well as real time irrigation scheduling adjustments based on the local weather. Playground and fitness equipment used throughout the site is manufactured with recycled content and best management practices were implemented to manage storm water. Permeable pavers were used throughout the site as well as decomposed granite and inert materials / rock cobble to further allow for infiltration.

Special Circumstances:

The City was fortunate in obtaining funds based on the percentage of homes built throughout the City that are considered ‘low income’. With input from the adjacent housing project which caters to low income and those with both physical and mental challenges, the funding allowed an opportunity to construct a much needed park and trail rest stop along the Santa Ana River. The project was funded through a $1 million-dollar grant provided by the State of California, Department of Housing and Community Development, housing related development program. Funding restrictions required the project be completed (conceptual design through construction) within 10 months.

An important goal of the project team was to address the recreation and developmental needs of a wide variety of the community while providing a place for the integration of all ages. Fitness equipment benefits both the physical (coordination) and mental needs of the adjacent development, while play equipment and picnic areas create wonderful gathering places. The park also caters to those using the Santa Ana River Trail. Equestrian elements are included such as hitching posts and horse watering areas, while bicyclists and trail users can stop to enjoy the many features provided in this small but important recreation area. The site also includes interpretive signage, allowing for historical aspects of the river to be shared by the reader.

Significant input and communication regarding the design was provided by the staff and residents of the adjacent Vista del Rio project. It was evident on opening day that they were extremely pleased with their new park. Although the site is in a high profile location, the design allows for it to feel appropriately separated from the street physically, but visually, park users feel safe given the number of access points and their location. The city does have a homeless population but given the activity in the park, there remains a draw for people of all ages to enjoy the opportunity for recreation, passive use, or those using the Santa Ana River trail for recreation or commuting purposes.

Project Attachments:


Award Citation::

Memory Lane Park is a .465-acre neighborhood park and Trail Rest Stop located adjacent to the Santa Ana River trail.  The design incorporates ‘green building strategies’ and provides passive recreational opportunities to the community and adjacent low income residents of Vista Del Rio.

Suggested Award Summary:

Memory Lane Park was funded through a State of California Department of Housing and Community Development Housing Related Parks grant – a competitive program for assisting in the planning and development of park and recreation projects that benefit the community and improve the quality of life by supporting infill projects in disadvantaged and park poor communities. The park helps serve the community by allowing access to the Santa Ana River Trail, providing an interface with nature while learning about river systems, and facilitating much needed social interaction with the residents of the Vista Del Rio Housing Community so they can learn from one another while meeting new friends of all ages. The fitness area, picnic facilities and children’s play areas all promote play and interaction. For those with physical and developmental disabilities, it was of utmost importance to provide an inviting environment where recreation promotes a healthy lifestyle. The social connections made by trail users and park visitors provide children and adults with both passive and active recreational opportunities.

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