Efforts by city officials in Mesa, Arizona to upgrade an aging and declining public park have been lauded by the prestigious Washington-based American Planning Association.
The 18-acre Pioneer Park, located at 526 E. Main Street in downtown Mesa, had fallen on hard times more than a decade ago, with certain facilities in the park neglected, graffiti decorating any number of fences and structures, and a once-popular train engine neglected and abandoned.
Using funding from a local bond, city officials were able to bring the park back to life, hiring in the process the Phoenix-based architectural firm of Dig Studio to survey area residents, asking how they envisioned a revived Pioneer Park.
The end result was a restored train and the construction of a series of interactive playgrounds and splash pads, as well as the creation of a plaza space designed for community events and a farmer’s market.
Funding for the park upgrade came from a $44 million bond Mesa voters passed in 2015.
In putting the Pioneer Park on its most recent Great Places in America list, the APA said it is “once again Mesa’s signature public space.”
The list this year includes neighborhoods, public spaces, and streets in nine states, all lauded for projects that the APA says, “makes communities stronger and brings people together through good planning.”
Since the Great Places in America list was first introduced in 2007, the APA has saluted more than 300 projects in all fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia.
Previous Great Places in America honorees include the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza in Prescott, Arizona; the Garden of the Gods Park in Denver; and the Santa Fe Railyard redevelopment in Santa Fe.
By Garry Boulard
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