By Nathaniel A. Lopez
Two Pinal County parks in the Copper Corridor are getting some much needed revitalization thanks to the county’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Construction at the at the Lionel D. Ruiz Park in Dudleyville and the San Manuel community park behind the San Manuel Community Center will begin soon.
Pinal County Space and Trails Director, Kent Taylor, offered some insight to Copper Area News as to the park renovations.
Dudleyville’s park has been receiving incremental improvements since 2013, most being ADA compliance work. As for the San Manuel community park, it wasn’t until 2019 that the park was taken over from BHP by Pinal County. The county then did an assessment of the San Manuel park, discovering that it showed a lot of age. Pinal County has also been assessing the park with help from community voices.
Bidding for the San Manuel Park project began in 2020, but the county discovered that it was going to be more expensive than anticipated. The county was able to find additional funding through grants. BHP agreed to provide demolition, and some seed funding as well. In the end the county found out it would be easier to package both parks together as one project.
There wasn’t much that could be salvaged from the SM Park. Most playground equipment was removed from the grounds. The old basketball court was taken out, and the fencing around the old tennis courts were also removed.
The Dudleyville park will mostly be receiving ADA updates, such as handicap parking, accessible walkways, and playground accessibility improvements. It will also get basketball court improvements.
“We’ve put a lot of focus on it since 2013,” Kent Taylor commented on the Dudleyville park, “a lot of concern on preventative maintenance, and keeping it up to high standards.”
The San Manuel park will be getting some hefty improvements. First on the list is ADA compliances, making the park accessible for everyone. New playground equipment will be installed, with proper safety surfaces underneath. A playground shade structure will also be put in. Improvements are being made to the practice baseball/softball field. The old tennis courts are being converted to new basketball courts. New picnic tables will be put in, as well as a large group ramada.
“This is a 120-day project, (but) San Manuel might be longer,” Kent Taylor stated, “Closer to six months from September first, but I won’t have any solid answers until we talk to suppliers.”
The county had also planned to get bidding for tree planting and irrigation, but were unable to get it. The county will plan to make them part of phase two in the renovations.