The road to the Joint Use Park has been a long, arduous journey. The College Area Community Council (CACC) included a joint-use park in the area of Mesa Colony in their 1989 community plan. The community has worked for 30 years to bring this dream to fruition. Many of the residents who supported this plan have died, retired to senior facilities or moved. Over the last three decades, city staff and SDUSD staff have come and gone. New residents moved into the neighborhood and continued the work.
Below is a timeline of the park and efforts to ensure its creation:
• In the 1990’s, the city was experiencing reduced spendable income. Many important work had to be postpone for decades. There was no funding for a park.
• The nation experienced a massive recession in the 2000’s that further reduced funding to all levels of government and SDUSD.
• Later school bonds were passed and there seemed to be hope for a joint-use park.
• In 2015-17, Tubman Charter School was found to be out of compliance with SDUSD. This prevented any bond money from being used for a park. Under the capable leadership of the new principal, Ryan Woodard, their school board and staff, the school finally met all its goals and is very successful. This allowed the possibility of school bonds for a park.
• Residents met with the SDUSD Charter Office and the Facilities Manager Lee Dulgeroff, District 9 Council member Marti Emerald and her staff to discuss the joint-use park. Council member Emerald and the school district made a commitment to the park.
• Shortly after this meeting, residents met at the Rolando-College Library with school officials, including SDUSD superintendent Cindy Martin, school board members, the District 9 Council member, Park and Recreation staff, the Mayor’s Office, the SDUD Chief Facilities and Planning Officer and state officials. As SDUSD continued to plan the park, residents made a point to attend additional meetings.
• A critical point for funding the park came when Georgette Gomez ran for the District 9 City Council seat. She met several times with CACC and Mesa Colony residents. The number one request was building the Joint Use Park. Gomez made a commitment to this project. Council President Gomez secured funding and future upkeep from the city and SDUD matched the funding from school bonds.
• Residents were also instrumental in planning the design of the park. Residents wanted a park that was family friendly and would bring the community and school together.
• At the ground breaking, Council President Gomez paid homage to resident Troy Murphree who worked tirelessly by communicating with the Council office and SDUD. Ms. Murphree provided critical input in the design which would include plenty of trees in the landscaping (College area is considered a hot zone by the city), grass rather than turf, a track for walking, and equipment for children and adults. She also shared the need for an entrance and exit on Saranac Street and exit on Mohawk Street. The later to ensure safety.
This story is a testament to the power that a few residents can have to improve a community. It also is a shining example of a neighborhood, city officials and a school district working together. The Tubman Charter School Joint Use Park is a “jewel” to the community.
—Christina L. Boyd