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New plaque at Bonita Cove playground honors beloved community leader

Maruta Gardner Playground
Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-10 20:04:57-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A plaque honoring a longtime educator and dynamo volunteer was unveiled Wednesday at a playground named after her. Maruta Gardner's life was tragically cut short by a drunk driver while she was painting over graffiti on the Mission Beach jetty wall in 2016.

10News anchor Lindsey Peña went to Bonita Cove to learn more about Gardner's life. The community leader who made a lasting impact on the Mission Beach community.

The city made Gardner's dream of a new park in Bonita Cove a priority. A volunteer from the Mission Beach Women's Club told 10News about the poor condition the previous park was in.

"Children were being injured. They were stepping on razor blades, they were stepping on drug paraphernalia. The equipment was bad, nobody wanted to send their children there to play... That started the whole drive to develop a new, safe park," MBWC member Nancie Geller says.

MBWC had already raised $35,000 for it before the city footed the $3.4 million bill.

The money MBWC raised was used to buy playground equipment at Maruta Gardner Playground, which first opened in Nov. 2020.

The city has declared Nov. 3 as Maruta Gardner Day, and it's celebrated each year with a beach cleanup.

Watch the video at the top of this story to hear Geller reminisce about her friend.