KGUN 9 On Your SideNews


Jesse Owens Park to get a makeover, increase capacity

Posted at 10:32 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 00:53:00-04

Back in April, a group of east side residents brought concerns about Jesse Owens Park to KGUN 9. They said it's neglected and in dire need of a makeover. Those concerns, brought to their City Council Member, Ward 2's Paul Cunningham -- who now says those concerns will turn into change.

"We're going to make a $1 million capital improvement into Jesse Owens Park," Cunningham said. "Jesse Owens Park is probably one of the busiest parks we have when it comes to youth sports and family activities. It was in due time, and I think the East Side is due for this, and I'm really optimistic about what we're going to be able to do to this park."

It was a moment of celebration for Ward 2 resident Debi Beatty. She was vocal with her concerns about the park.

"People had talked for so long and had been trying to do this, and nothing happened. It was a dead end," she said. "I want to cry. I'm thrilled. I'm just in awe, I feel like -- pinch me."

One of the first priorities, according to Cunningham, is increasing the capacity of the park's parking lot.

"We're going to add spaces, we're going to add handicap accessible parking," he said. On top of that, they'll be fixing the entrances and exits to the lots to make them safer.

Some of the other concerns the residents brought up included a lack of lighting throughout the park and a lot of dead grass. So, Cunningham said the park will have two new lighted rectangular fields.

"By expanding the number of lighted fields we have," Cunningham explained. "The opportunity to improve the grass amenity at parks increases."

When it comes to a timetable, Cunningham is shooting for spring of 2018. He explained the money for the project will come from grant money, community money, leftover general fund savings, and actualized impact fees.

"Hopefully once we get all the I's dotted and the T's crossed, we'll have something special for Tucson on the East Side," he said.

Beatty explained the reason she cares so much about this park:

"The kids," she said. "The kids that want to come out here want to be safe. They don't want to step in a hole, they want nice grass."

When it comes to the issue of dead grass, Cunningham explained that's a complaint in many city parks that will be addressed.

"There'll be a $3.5 million investment into irrigation at various parks throughout the city," he said.