As far as park amenities go, you can’t find anything more basic than grass.
But one unfunded park in west Mesa doesn’t even offer turf for kids to play ball on or for families to put a blanket down for a picnic.
Beverly Park will finally have some grass, however, but only through a $50,000 grant the city is receiving. It’s the latest improvement at a park that is being cobbled together with grants, volunteers and the people from the surrounding neighborhood.
The bare-bones park wouldn’t be welcome in many communities, but its neighbors have cheered each small development, said Jo Ellen McNamara, executive director of the West Mesa Community Development Corp.
Much of the area near the park is low-to-moderate income, and the park is two to three miles from the next nearest park.
“Beverly Park is a huge gem for this side of town,” McNamara said. “The neighbors are very involved with what’s going on.”
The park has been planned since 2003 but only started to take shape in June, when the Home Depot Foundation and its nonprofit affiliate, KaBOOM!, donated materials for a playground. More than 500 volunteers helped install the equipment and a brick walkway on a scorching day.
Mesa bought the land near the northwest corner of Main Street and Alma School Road in 2003, with $275,000 in federal grant money. The city spent tens of thousands of dollars to plan about $1 million worth of improvements, but hard financial times put work on hold. The city even contemplated selling the 2.8 acres that had become a magnet for graffiti and crime.
Residents offered to help if the city agreed to keep the land, and the park is seeing regular use since the playground went in this summer, said Andrea Moore, a Mesa parks planning and development supervisor. Visitors include residents of nearby apartments and grandchildren of homeowners who have lived in the area for generations.
“There’s lots of different age groups, and what I’m hearing is everybody is mixing well in the park,” Moore said.
Complaints about the park have gone done since children and parents have filled it and discouraged illicit activity. Neighbors help keep weeds under control and pick up trash because of thin city staffing.
The grass is scheduled to go in as the growing season begins in March. A community group will decide whether to sod the park or use less expensive grass seed so more money is left over for trees, shade structures or other amenities. The park is in an area with flood irrigation, which Moore said has proven a good way to keep grass and trees alive without a sprinkler system.
The grass is funded through a grant awarded by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
The city and neighborhood plan to eventually have a basketball court and other amenities, but they are relying on grants, donations and fundraising for any additional improvements.