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Park brings people from all over Southern Arizona together

Willie Blake Jr.
Willie Blake Jr. and soccer players practicing in his park
Posted at 10:13 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 21:38:45-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "Years ago, they wouldn't come here," Willie Blake Jr. said. "Nobody would invest in this area."

Blake has lived in the Western Hills neighborhood for more than 40 years. He's seen the change first-hand from the neighborhood and been part of the change.

"I won't put my name on anything that's raggedy," Blake said.

He worked with the city to build a park across the street from his house. Day after day the park is filled with people young and old from all over Southern Arizona.

"Southside, up north, Green Valley, Nogales, people come to my park from everywhere," Blake said. "Most of the people accidentally found out it was here."

But they keep coming back. One of the biggest reasons is the because the grass maintained to perfection.

"This is the nicest public field in Tucson," a soccer coach said.

But for Blake, it's more than just a park.

"Community is about knowing one another and participating with one another," Blake said. "If you live in a neighborhood and you don't know anyone except the person right next to you, that's not neighborly."

Blake sees the park as a way to build community and also keep kids busy.

"That will keep you out of trouble," Blake said. "Just do something."

When Blake is at the park, he spends his time talking and connecting with those there.

"There's a right road and a wrong road," Blake said. "When I speak to young people, I try to make sure they stay on the right road."

Whether its kids or adults, Blake wants everyone to share one message.

"Just try a little kindness and you'll be glad you did," Blake said.

Willie Blake Jr. Park is located at 3525 S Naco Vista, Tucson, AZ 85713.