La Mesa's MacArthur Park is Waiting For You
I was a small part of the effort a short while ago to “clean up” MacArthur Park, formerly a nice little 9-hole golf course in La Mesa, now destined to serve the community as a neighborhood park. Folks showed up to paint, pick up debris, lay rocks for trail perimeters, plant small bushes, and collect golf balls. I was one of the latter; thought I might find some I’d lost in previous years!
The park was technically opened to the public that same Saturday. I visited again shortly thereafter and found it still “under construction” with some minor pending maintenance to be completed. That was late last year, 2017.
During the transition from Sun Valley to MacArthur Park
Some of the folks helping to make a nice place even better!
I visited again this morning, January 31, 2018, just to see how things were going. I remember thinking that it was going to be a wonderful small park for the La Mesa neighborhood residents and visitors to relax and enjoy the quiet. Well, it was quiet, alright. While the parking lot is presently fenced in, the gate was open, and there were new signs installed advising that dogs must be on leash. Plenty of places to park, and all empty! No cars, no dogs, no people.
I walked around the overlook near the old clubhouse (still standing but “closed) and scanned the park for any activity. None! It was a beautiful morning; while you could hear the freeway traffic off Hwy. 8 in the background, the more prevalent sounds were those of the birds in the trees…many trees, lots of birds. Peaceful, calm, very comfortable, and I was the only one enjoying it. Looking around, I noted that even the residential neighborhoods in the hills surrounding the park were so dotted with trees that the buildings weren’t invasive. The only drawback on the 360 degree “horizon” was the Journey sign, sticking up out of nowhere and partially blocking the view of Cowles Mountain. Otherwise, it was a lot of greenery and easy on the eyes.
A peaceful green getaway
So, what’s up, La Mesa? This really is a wonderful little park; there is a baseball diamond that enjoys frequent use, a basketball court that could still use some sprucing up, a safe clean swimming pool, a playground for the kiddos, and room to just take it easy. It's a nice place to walk dogs, get a little exercise along the easy trails, or work out a little traversing the hilly mildly challenging walkways. It’s a small park but, if you need a longer walk, you can go around twice. So, where is everyone? I realize the kids are in school so maybe some parents aren’t patronizing MacArthur Park because they would normally do so with the family. But I know there are dog-owners in the ‘hood and I saw not one. Nor did I observe anyone just walking for the purpose of having some alone-time, or time with friends.
This park could easily have been snatched up by money-hungry builders and contractors and relegated to yet another plot of commercial or apartment/condo development which would have been a shame; thankfully the La Mesa City Council realized the benefit of a community park and designated it as such, with plans to modify it accordingly. I saw that the grass has been mowed, there were new trails marked with rocks, the landscape has been maintained, and nearly all signs of the former Sun Valley Golf Course have disappeared except for the clubhouse and the driving range netting. So the park is ready for patronage immediately. If not one uses it, I’m afraid within the year the developers will be back knocking at the door of City Hall stating their case that the property is under-used and unappreciated as a park and should feature stores and residential units instead.
The old clubhouse and baseball diamond
I am a big proponent of affordable housing and San Diego County is woefully short on affordable units. But I also appreciate that, in any community, there needs to be some “green space” for folks to breathe, to hang out together, to relax, and to enjoy nature and some peace and quiet. C’mon, people, use it or lose it. If you have not yet checked it out, take a look. While it’s not snazzy or fancy, it’s a beautiful little park in the heart of La Mesa and should be well-utilized by the community and its visitors. Please come out and take advantage of this gem among the Jewel of the Hills before they pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
See you there!