The Greenbelt

History and photographs by Doris Beaman and Carol Tanner

 

Second only to the beach in public use is the wonderful 3.7 mile long trail known as the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt. This beautifully landscaped trail runs parallel between Ardmore and Valley Drive. This fabulous piece of nature amidst its urban surroundings was not mother nature's design alone. This 24 acre strip was once part of the Santa Fe Railroad easement.

 

 

At one time, the Santa Fe Railway was Hermosa's only link to civilization. It went as far south as Redondo and east to Los Angeles. In the 1920s a railroad depot was built at Ardmore and Pier Avenue. It was torn down in the 1960's when the Santa Fe ceased using the Hermosa to Redondo part of the railway system. 

 

 

In the early 1960s Jack Belasco, later a Hermosa councilmember and mayor, along with his neighbor Bob Blumencamp, planted the first trees on the right-of-way, carrying buckets of water across Valley Drive until the trees were large enough to survive on their own.  

 

There were years of discussion from special interest groups (developers and recreational enthusiasts) in the 1980s.  The citizens of Hermosa made a strong stand and when it was finally put to an initiative vote nearly 87% decided to preserve it for recreational use, with no hardscape allowed. The public was willing to tax themselves in the millions to secure, landscape and maintain a trail that makes one think they are in the mountains away from the hub-bub of the city.

 

 

Today, the Greenbelt is used by joggers, walkers, mothers with strollers, dirt bike riders, dog walkers, and fitness enthusiasts of all ages as well as the butterflies, birds and other animals. Along the trail are four new exercise stations, installed in 2008, which replaced older deteriorating stations used since the sixties. Dedication markers and memorial trees are found here and there along the Belt. One only needs to have attended a recently heated debate regarding the possible installation of a bike trail next to the walking trail - the Greenbelt users came out in force to the Parks and Recreation meeting to state their strong objection to their beloved piece of nature being wrecked by a paved bike path.

 

 

If there is anyone in Hermosa or neighboring cities who has not enjoyed the tranquility of a walk or jog along the Greenbelt you are truly missing out on one of the city’s best attributes. Today the Greenbelt is part of the Federal Rails to Trails network. Hermosa Beach has been deemed a "world class pedestrian city" and I, for one, can't think of a better distinction in this day and age.

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