Martin Luther King, Jr. Park debuts new Fitness Zone

Families can now enjoy a new Fitness Zone, which celebrated its grand opening at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Richmond on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.

By Kathy Chouteau

High winds, power outages and nearby wildfires didn’t stop an enthusiastic crowd of community members from coming out to Richmond’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Sun., Oct. 27, 2019, to celebrate the grand opening of a new Fitness Zone and preview the impending Richmond Wellness Trail planned to run along the park’s perimeter.

The event, which was hosted by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and City of Richmond, in partnership with Groundwork Richmond, Rich City Rides and The Watershed Project, included brief remarks from project stakeholders including Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, Alejandra Chiesa of TPL, Kathryn Boyle of Kaiser Permanente and Jim Becker of Richmond Community Foundation.

After highlighting Martin Luther King, Jr. Park as one of the most active places in Richmond, Mayor Butt remarked that the city is “focused on improving all the elements that contribute to a healthy community” and that “this project is strategically placed where it has access to housing, access to transportation, green space and the Bay Trail.”

“This is a great example of how cities and parks can improve health and improve wellness by locating facilities like this close to people who need them and use them the most,” Mayor Butt added.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt speaks at the grand opening of the new fitness zone at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park iin Richmond on Sun., Oct. 27, 2019.

Following the remarks, Trudy Garber of TPL introduced attendees of all ages to the Fitness Zones’ exercise equipment, which everyone was eager to test out and, in some instances, mimicked what might be found at an indoor fitness center.

While noshing on tamales and drinks as Richmond DJ Darrell Goodbear spun some tunes, attendees were encouraged to give feedback on project organizers’ vision for the Richmond Wellness Trail, as well as a large-scope game plan for the Resilience Roadmap impacting the Iron Triangle, Santa Fe and Coronado neighborhoods—which were outlined on presentation boards posted along the park’s fence.

A large group of multigenerational cyclists coordinated by Rich City Rides made a grand entrance during the event, riding into the park via its field track—showcasing, in part—the planned, adjacent Richmond Wellness Trail’s accessibility to bike enthusiasts.

Slated for completion in the spring of 2022, the Richmond Wellness Trail will “create 1.1 miles of trail, connecting Richmond BART/AMTRAK, Wright Avenue and the Bay Trail” that will “transform…residential streets into a multi-use, multi-benefit green infrastructure corridor” during Phase 1 of the project, per TPL’s website. The new Fitness Zone at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park is adjacent to the planned trail. 

According to TPL, future phases of the project will connect to Richmond’s shoreline, the Richmond Ferry and the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park.

Key project partners for the Richmond Wellness Trail include TPL; City of Richmond; Groundwork Richmond; The Watershed Project; Rich City Rides and the National Parks Service. Funding is being provided by the California Natural Resources Agency; Strategic Growth Council; Kaiser Permanente Northern California and the Hellman Foundation.

For its part, the Richmond Resilience Roadmap is a collaboration between the City of Richmond, community partners and TPL to “identify, fund and build public projects within Richmond’s neighborhoods that will continue to increase the resiliency of community members, community facilities and services, businesses and the neighborhoods to disruptions caused by climate change,” per a presentation board at the park that day.

Want to check out the new Fitness Zone? Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Marina Way South & Virginia Ave. in Richmond. Learn more about the Richmond Wellness Trail and project updates here.