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Residents say Jesse Owens Park needs major improvements

Posted at 5:10 PM, Apr 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-16 20:10:31-04

Some residents in an Eastside neighborhood say it's time that a community park gets a serious makeover.

"Everybody uses this field -- this park. It's been neglected," Richard Dominic said. "And it's time that we say something."

Dominic and fellow Ward 2 resident Debi Beatty say that Jesse Owens Park is a fixture in the community -- yet the conditions are so bad that it's alienating people from going there.

"It's one of the older parks in the city, and it's time to revive it," Dominic said.

The duo explained there are cosmetic issues -- like a lack of grass in many areas of the park -- but also plenty of structural issues. Some of the main things they're determined to get fixed are the parking lots, adding more lighting, filling in the holes in the athletic fields, and increasing handicap accessibility.

Dominic, a Tucson native, grew up going to Jesse Owens Park. Now a little league coach, he feels there's been an ongoing neglect for the park conditions since his childhood.

Ward 2 Council Member Paul Cunningham agrees with his residents that there's no question the park needs to be improved, but explained it's a process that they need to budget for correctly.

"It is probably the centerpoint for that area of Ward 2, and that's why it's in dire need of repair," Cunningham said. "We've got to expand it's capacity. We have to capitalize it, so, we're looking for strategies to do that in the next fiscal year. In the meantime, we've done our best to address as many maintenance issues as we can."

Beatty and Dominic conceded the city has been very good about fixing problems, like water fountains and potholes in the parking lots. However, they say these are temporary fixes that aren't long term, and it's time to start looking at the bigger picture.

"They're just temporary," they said. "They're going to be out here year after year -- as soon as it rains, all of those potholes will be back where they were."

While Cunningham agrees, he explained he doesn't have a timetable at this point on when and how Jesse Owens Park will get a makeover.