Waller Park is a 153-acre public park owned and operated by the Parks Department of Santa Barbara County. It is located two miles south of the city of Santa Maria, just off the Orcutt Expressway at Waller Lane.
The older park section is nearly eighty acres of land acquired from the Santa Maria Golf and Country Club in 1927. It was known as Washington Grove until the death of Mr. L.D. Waller in 1940. At that time the park was renamed in his honor. Waller was a pioneer flower-seed grower in the Santa Maria Valley and was Chairman of the Santa Barbara Parks and Forestry Board, which sponsored the early acquisition and development of the park.
Additional acreage on the south side was donated to the County in 1964, bringing the park to its present size. Funds from State and Federal grants made possible the development of approximately 35 acres in 1974 and the new section was named “Don Potter Grove” in memory of Waller Park Ranger Potter, who served from July 1963 to March 1976.
Two regulation softball fields and concession building were developed by the community for Babe Ruth baseball teams. This “Ellis Field” area was used as a fighter pilot training center during World War II.
The bandstand (gazebo) was built and donated by the Salvation Army of Santa Maria in 1966. In 1987 the gazebo was refurbished and moved to the Don Potter area.
In 1977, fourteen acres were leased to the Santa Maria Valley YMCA for the development of their recreational facility.
The passage of Proposition 13 into law in 1978 caused considerable cutbacks in manpower and improvements. The maintenance and development of county parks is not a service mandated by the state. Property tax dollars are the principal source of funds for Waller Park and the squeeze of those funds has become tighter due to increasing competition for the dollar and rising inflation.
In 1986, 22 acres were leased to the City of Santa Maria for the softball complex which was completed in 1990. In 1988 the front lake was reconstructed (a one-million-dollar project which included the new Lakeside Picnic Terrace area.) The park is now staffed by four people who also serve in other locations in the 5th district. The children’s zoo, bird aviary and various equipment have been removed in recent years because maintenance and replacement costs are prohibitive under present budget allowances.