Urban Corps of San Diego County has partnered with the City of San Diego to implement a $1.08 million park improvement project at the celebrated Chicano Park in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego. The park —listed on the National Register of Historic Places— is San Diego County Regional Park best known as an outdoor mural museum documenting Chicano history in colorful imagery. Chicano Park was developed after a month-long protest in 1970 by Chicano activists, when plans for the park were nearly set aside to make way for a California Highway Patrol station.
The Chicano Park Improvement Project is being made possible by a grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development and charges Urban Corps with outreach, planning, design and build-out of a variety of enhancements. The project will result in much-needed safety improvements, recreational opportunities, and a more vibrant public park while helping disadvantaged young adults in the Urban Corps program succeed in San Diego’s 21st century workforce. At least 20 Corpsmembers will gain valuable construction and landscaping job skills while studying at Urban Corps Charter School to obtain their high school diplomas.
Urban Corps will be installing new playground equipment, addressing lighting, landscaping, irrigation, ADA accessibility and park signage, and constructing new recreational amenities including a skate plaza, handball court, and adult fitness area. Urban Corps expects the construction planning phase to be complete by the end of 2014. A project ground breaking will be held in in January 2015 with project completion in January 2016.
“This project offers us a chance to make a monumental contribution to one of San Diego’s most historic and beloved cultural destinations while training Corpsmembers in a wide variety of technical skills,” says Robert Chávez, Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Corps. “What’s really exciting is that these youth, many of whom reside in the Barrio Logan community, will have an opportunity to give back to their community in a meaningful way that they can forever be proud of. Of course, their participation will also render them more employable.”
The Chicano Park project will provide training opportunities for Corpsmembers like Ali Basheer, who is currently assigned to Urban Corps’ GreenBuild construction crew. Ali is an Iraqi refugee who has overcome a traumatic past and is now a primary breadwinner in his family. Ali hopes to earn his high school diploma in December 2014. While his passion is for track and field, his goals are shifting the more he works on the construction crew.
“When I first joined Urban Corps, my goal was to get a high school diploma and join the U.S. Olympic track and field team,” Basheer says. “Now my goals are more realistic. I understand how important the skills are that I am learning. I can fix lots things at home and that really helps my family. I appreciate this opportunity to work and learn, and am now thinking I want to be an Urban Corps staff supervisor so I can teach other youth that come after me. With that in mind, working on the Chicano Park project will be a great experience.”
-Submitted by Urban Corps of San Diego County