(Source: EastValleyTribune): Leah Gilchrist
Residents of Mesa can expect to see a new park and recreation center where Mesa Junior High once stood.
Eagles Park will open as a community space for Mesa residents, offering soccer fields, a renovation of the old school gymnasium and dance room, a creation of multipurpose community rooms, and staff offices for the center.
Following the closure of Mesa Junior High School in 2012 after years of declining enrollment and increasing costs of renovation, the city of Mesa found an opportunity in the space.
“Any time we can add parks to the urban core, we try to take advantage of that,” said Marc Heirshberg, the Mesa director of parks, recreation and community facilities.
Heirshberg said the renovation of the former school gymnasium into the recreation center for the facility will create, “much-needed indoor space.”
The $70-million Parks and Recreation Bond Program was passed by voters in 2012. The bonds are funding the conversion of the former school ground into Eagles Park, as well as making improvements to several sites across the city.
At a Mesa City Council meeting on April 3, the first $2.1 million phase of the project was approved, allowing for the renovation and construction of the facilities.
Phase one of the construction has already begun, and Heirshberg said the first phase of the project has an expected completion around early to mid-September of this year.
Once the first phase of renovating and creating the recreation center is complete in September, the second phase of constructing the outdoor park facilities will begin. Plans for outdoor facilities for the park include several multipurpose fields, course exercise stations, play areas for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, and a ninja obstacle course.
Heirshberg estimated the entire park and recreational facility would be completed by September of next year.
The park will offer a green space to the Mesa community for outdoor activities, as well as an indoor facility for recreation when the weather isn’t suitable for being outdoors. In addition to the space for recreation, the site will provide for Mesa residents, it will also serve as a sustainable site for the community.
“One of the unique things about the site is the storm water retention,” Heirshberg said.
The park and recreation center are being constructed at an elevation with numerous water retention basins across the site in order to efficiently collect storm water from heavy rains and monsoon season.
This collection and retention system will help sustain and alleviate the community during dry weather.
The city of Mesa is also currently renovating Pioneer Park which is expected to reopen around the December of this year. Renovations to Pioneer Park also fall under the same funding from the 2012 Parks Bond Program as Eagles Park.