A sea of about 550 orange and khaki-clad volunteers from across the country and locally drilled holes, laid bricks and hauled giant pieces of equipment, turning part of a dull, brown piece of land into a playground within hours for a grateful west Mesa neighborhood.
Until Wednesday, the neighborhood lacked a local park for kids to play in and adults to gather. The project was a result of a generous donation of money, material and labor from the Home Depot Foundation, its nonprofit affiliate, KaBOOM!, Mesa and West Mesa Community Development Corp.
The result: Beverly Park, near Main Street and Alma School Road, now has a 5,000-square-foot playground - complete with swings, slides and a giant jungle gym - on a 2.8-acre piece of land that may otherwise have been sold off by the city.
Mesa had bought the land in 2003, using about $275,000 in federal grant money, but lacked the money to develop it and had last year considered selling it. In the last couple of years, the land had become a public-safety nuisance, generating police calls and driving up maintenance issues.
But neighbors, particularly the Mesa Grande Community Alliance, a neighborhood group, pushed for the playground. With help from the West Mesa CDC, they applied for a grant to KaBOOM!, it got approved and now the revitalized park will officially open to the public at 1 p.m. Saturday. Mesa parks and recreation director Rhett Evans estimated the donated manpower and material at being worth $200,000.
Caleb Marshall, project manager for KaBoom!, said there were are no places for kids to play within walking distance of this neighborhood, so this would be a "tremendous opportunity" for residents to have a meeting ground and common space to play.
Last week, another Mesa-owned park, called Park of the Canals, got a similar face-lift.
Evans said he hopes Mesa can develop the relationship established with the foundation to do more such projects in the future throughout the city.
Tribune photojournalist Tim Hacker contributed to this report