I recently gave you a general update on the progress of improvements to our Ward 2 parks thanks to the bond measure that you and your neighbors voted for in 2018. I’d like to give you some news on one specific project.
Of the over $250 million that was authorized, Jesse Owens Park received $1.5M for improvements. One of those projects is a new splash pad. It will be located near the existing swimming pool. Our city’s Parks and Recreation Department is giving you the chance to help decide what equipment the splash pad is going to have. Click here to take the survey. The survey ends on March 28.
Many of the recreation centers in our parks have been closed. As COVID numbers continue to fall and precautions start to be relaxed, we have developed a plan to reopen our recreation centers.
The reopening will begin April 4. On that day, the Pima Council on Aging will be doing meal service again for those centers that offer it and Parks and Recreation will be accepting reservations for large scale use of gymnasiums (the reservations will be accepted for April 11 and later). There will still be restrictions on capacity and City mask mandates will still be in effect.
April 11 will also mark the day that “drop-in” use will begin. That includes basketball, volleyball, badminton and, of course, pickleball.
The current plan is that full use of the recreation centers will be allowed in May. This, of course, is contingent on COVID numbers continuing to fall.
One more thing while we are talking about our parks. We are still having chilly nights, but it won't be too long before it is hot enough that we’ll all want a swim. Councilmember Kevin Dahl and I are talking to Parks about extending the pool season. A handful of our pools are year-round or on an extended season, but most are summer only. Our hot summers the last few years go roughly from Memorial Day until the start of school; our pool seasons should reflect that.
I’m already hearing that in the current labor environment, it will be harder to staff our pools. However, this is a worthwhile priority. In Tucson, providing the opportunity for kids and their families to inexpensively use a pool is a necessity.
Many of us have felt moved by the current conflict in Ukraine and want to help. I want to encourage you to support Voices for Children, which works with children in conflict zones around the world, giving them help through their trauma. The group is based in Ukraine, so their focus has turned to their own country helping kids cope and aiding in evacuations.
Another group to support is the International Rescue Committee, which has strong local ties. A donation to them helps refugees not just in Ukraine, but people escaping conflicts in Ethiopia, Yemen and around the world.