Community meets to discuss ways to implement $1.08 million grant
By Brent E. Beltrán
On January 8 members of the greater Chicano Park community met at the Cesar Chavez Continuing Education Center in Barrio Logan to discuss ways to spend a $1.08 million state grant to improve Chicano Park. Around fifty people met in a workshop conducted by Robert Chavez of Urban Corps San Diego.
The grant was made possible through the Department of Housing and Community Development and Proposition 1C through the House and Emergency Trust Fund Act of 2006. Urban Corps will be in charge of making sure grant regulations for the Chicano Park Recreational Improvement Project are followed as well as do the actual agreed upon improvements.
“The purpose behind the workshop is to really get a whole bunch of new ideas and get a sense of the visioning that a lot of these community residents have for Chicano Park for now and into the future,” said Chavez.
“What we’re really trying to get a sense of is what is the ultimate vision for the park for the folks in this community? We’ll prioritize and see what we can pay for out of that $1.08 million but then down the road we’d also like to refer back to whatever plan we come up with after this planning process and figure out what other resources are available to implement the entire vision.”
Some of the possible improvements that would fall under the grant guidelines include re-sodding of the grass, new handball courts, a skate plaza, new lighting for safety, new playground equipment, sand removal and new surface for playground areas, picnic tables, benches, water fountains and lots of other amenities.
As part of the workshop attendees split into groups and a survey was conducted to determine what the priorities of community members are for Chicano Park. Urban Corps broke down the various segments of the park and asked survey takers if they were very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, neutral, satisfied or very satisfied with each of segment.
In addition, they asked what improvements attendees would like to see happen. Most, of course, responded by saying new restrooms since the current ones probably rank as the worst public restrooms in San Diego. Though new restrooms are needed it would probably cost more than the entire grant to build new ones. With that in mind Urban Corps has agreed to look into finding funding for new restroom facilities.
The results of the survey and the list of priorities will be made public at the next meeting to be held in mid-March. More input will also be welcome at this meeting.
With a deadline of January 2016 to spend the grant funding Urban Corps hopes to begin whatever construction is prioritized in October of this year and hopes to complete work by October 2015.
With the recent opening of the Mercado del Barrio development, the soon-to-be installation of the Barrio Logan gateway sign and the ever expanding Barrio Logan Arts District this Chicano Park improvements project is but another aspect of the revitalization of San Diego’s most historic barrio.
After decades of neglect Barrio Logan is finally getting the props it deserves. Hopefully this will continue when the people of San Diego go to the pols this February 11 and elect Barrio Logan native David Alvarez for mayor and go again to the pols in June to vote in favor of the Barrio Logan Community Plan and against maritime industry polluting residents.