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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Popular Park to be Renovated

It has been a long time coming, but the new improved Hermoso Park should be finished by summer of next year or maybe even sooner.

“It is one of our older parks. It’s time for an update,” said Chris Ewell, the project manager and a landscape architect for City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. 

“The community has been asking for some improvements for years and so we have a few difference sources of money, about $4 million. We have been working with the community to prioritize their wants and we are moving forward,” he said.
“One of the big things they wanted was a brand new recreation center. They have one, but it’s too small to serve their needs. The new one is 4,000 square feet. The primary uses are for youth. We have a large population of youth in the area. In the summer program, we have 125 kids each day,“ he said.

The current community center, recreation center is more than 50 years old and quite small.

The park is in South Phoenix at 20th Street and Southern Avenue.

“It is a very diverse community. It has diverse income levels and a diverse mix of ethnicity, so the programs at the park must be diverse. It’s a wide range of people,” Ewell said.

He said a major use of the park is picnicking.

Everyone comes for holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day and the 4th of July, he said. “People come, and bring their own pop-up shade structures or they are under every tree. Every spot of grass is taken up,” he said. 

“There are mature trees and shade. That is one of the things we are enhancing. We are building some ramadas and a large group ramada.

Both restrooms are being replaced.

The new community center will have overhangs for shade and glass doors that slide into each other so it can be opened on pleasant days to bring the outdoors inside and provide a larger space. There will be restrooms, a warming kitchen, staff offices and a place for arts and crafts and the like.

“During the school year we have after school programs that operate there, arts and crafts, separated by teens and preteens,” he said. 

It offers programs such as Teen Leadership and offers help with homework and tutoring, he said.

In the summer it has an all-day recreation program for kids. It gives them a place to go. There is a variety of organized activities, pool, foosball, games, arts and crafts and in the summer, the swimming pool in the park is open. There is a food program for children,” he said.

Youth regularly play organized sports like softball and soccer there and the fields will be updated, he said.

“We have a skate plaza. Eight years ago city officials closed the tennis courts that were not being used and put in a skate plaza. If there is any money left over from this project, we will enhance or put in a new skate plaza, ” he said.

The community hopes that someday to replace the pool, he said. 

Helping move the project along is District Eight Councilman Michael Johnson.

“He has had his hand on it and had been key in making sure the funding is available,” Ewell said. 

He said another of spearheads is neighborhood activist Faye Gray who has been active in the planning.

The estimated cost for all the improvements is $3.7 million. It will be funded through the City of Phoenix 2011-2016 Capitol Improvement Program, which is funded through Parks and Preserves Initiative revenue as well as 2006 Parks and Open Space bonds.


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