Villa Park Knowles

History of the Wanda Greenbelt

"Villa Park Orchards Association packing house, Villa Park, California, ca. 1922." From the Orange Public Library Local History Collection.

The greenbelt along Wanda Road (informally known as the Wanda Greenbelt) was originally a train depot for the Villa Park Orchards Association's packinghouse. 48 local fruit farmers formed the Association in 1912, and by 1913 they had purchased two parcels of land along Santiago Boulevard to build the packinghouse which remained in operation for 55 years. By 1969, the Association had expanded to include 575 members who owned 6,000 acres of citrus farmland. The Villa Park Orchards Association grew to become Sunkist's second-largest orange, grapefruit, and tangerine packing company in the country. The Association closed the original Villa Park location in 1967, and the greenbelt was left mostly untouched until 2021.

The Wanda Greenbelt Project

The City of Villa Park was incorporated in 1962, fifty years after the Villa Park Orchards Association was founded. After the packinghouse closed, the stretch of land that hosted the train depot along Wanda Road was left undeveloped. Few improvements had been made over the years, and the greenbelt deteriorated over time. In 2020 the City of Villa Park proposed a total revitalization of the greenbelt that included a complete relandscaping of the area and the installation of new benches and workout equipment. That proposal has now become a reality. The City is proud of the results of the Wanda Greenbelt Project and hopes that residents enjoy the beautiful space and all of its amenities.

Dedication of the Villa Park Knowles

The Wanda Greenbelt has been formally named the Villa Park Knowles in honor of Mike Knowles, our beloved Maintenance Supervisor who has served the City for over 30 years. It is fitting that this newly-improved green space is being dedicated to a man who works tirelessly to maintain the City and make it a beautiful place to live. The Hidden Jewel of Orange County certainly would not shine as brightly without Mike, and the City is proud to dedicate the Villa Park Knowles in his honor.