Will You Help Us Save Pioneer Park?

Dated: 07/24/2018

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Pioneer Park has faced a negative community reputation throughout much of its history. David Garbett is trying to fix that.

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I’m here today with David Garbett, the executive director of the Pioneer Park Coalition, to discuss Pioneer Park—where it’s from, where it's today, and where it’s going in the future.

What’s wrong with Pioneer Park?

For 60 to 70 years, Pioneer Park has literally been on the wrong side of the tracks. If you go back and look at city records from the 1950s, people were discussing how the train tracks that cut through the city isolated the park from where people lived. It went from a park that people would use for recreation to a park surrounded by industrial areas. Since people began to visit it less and less, it became a hub for people to conduct clandestine business (read: illegal activities). This has been a problem for the park ever since.

Even though the park is a public space, there are very few days where you’ll see a cross-section of the public here. Most people don’t feel comfortable coming here. That’s ultimately the problem—that it isn’t functioning as a public space.

What can we do to fix it?

"Remember: it takes a whole community to create a space the entire public can enjoy."

Other cities have had similar problems—we’re not the only one with a ‘Pioneer Park.’ Most of those cities have followed a standard formula to fix these types of parks:

1. Bring activities to the park.

2. Provide food, as in, build a restaurant or a concessionaire. 

3. Have a ranger ambassador program.

4. Set up works of art or other features that would draw people’s eye.

For many of these cities, this formula has had pretty good results. Typically, those efforts are spearheaded by a nonprofit who focuses specifically on the park. They provide the programming and collect public donations to fund the additions and improvements that the city would otherwise be unable to fund.

How much would this cost, and how long would it take?

We are currently working with the public to identify what exactly they’d like to see in this park. We’re trying to take this a few steps beyond where people have tried to go in the past. Once we do that, we could sit down and put pencil to paper in order to figure out the cost of what the public really wants. As it is, we’re probably in the ballpark of $10 million to $20 million in upgrades.

Annually, the city currently spends between $75,000 and $100,000 to operate the park. This simply isn’t enough to provide an experience that will draw the public back to the park. To maintain it at the level the public would want, we’d need an annual budget of at least $500,000.

What can we in the community do to help?

If you’re interested in helping Pioneer Park, visit our website at www.PioneerPark.co, or email us at [email protected]. We’ll send you information about opportunities you’ll have to contribute to the restoration.

I’m so thankful for David coming out to talk with me about this awesome initiative, and I wish him and his peers all the best for their efforts. For any questions about real estate, you’re always welcome to contact us. Remember: it takes a whole community to create a space the entire public can enjoy.

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Brandon Blackwell

Brandon began his real estate career in 2001. Over the years, Brandon has gained a lot of experience and knowledge of the real estate market and doing so he so is able represent his clients in the bes....

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