Next month the College Area will have a milestone moment. If the schedule holds, the Harriet Tubman Village Joint-Use Park will open in July.
First proposed in the 1970s, with community pressure, it was approved as a candidate for the joint-use park program between the city and the San Diego Unified School District. After approval, the project just sat there because it was not a priority for the city and funding for it was never identified.
In the early 2000s, Saranac/Mohawk community (now Mesa Colony) residents Steve and Gail Barlow and Troy Murphree realized that, in theory, it was an approved project and began lobbying the College Area Community Council, the city, the school, the school district, the city council office, etc., relentlessly. After Gail and Steve moved away, Troy and Mesa Colony Community Group chair, Terry Shirley continued leadership of the battle and enlisted not only Mesa Colony and CACC leadership, however our city council office. After many grueling years, funding was identified and the project moved forward. The battle, however, was not over.
As was done at the Language Academy joint-use park, the plan was to use artificial turf, which would defeat the community’s goal of creating a cool, restful, oasis as a community asset, not a hot green-colored open space. After more pushing and lobbying, agreement was reached to use real turf for the field and to add shade trees and benches.
Depending on whether the turf is ready to sustain public use, the goal is to hold a dedication ceremony and then open the park by late July. Please look for announcements for the dedication ceremony and join fellow community members in celebrating one of the extremely rare dedications of a park in the College Area. It has been an uphill battle that has taken more than 40 years. This is something really worth celebrating.
—Jose Reynoso is chair of the College Area Community Council and College Area Planning Board.