After being closed since May for a massive makeover, a grand opening celebration will take place tomorrow, Dec. 16, at 4:30 p.m. for the new Pioneer Park, 526 E. Main St. There will be a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony and all the park amenities will be available. The event will include the Jack Frost Food Truck Forest with gourmet food trucks and live music that is part of Merry Main Street.
“So many Mesa families have been coming to Pioneer Park for generations,” Mayor John Giles said. “From the days of playing on the train to the amazing new playground structures that look and feel like playing in the trees, Pioneer Park is the place our community gathers. I am so proud of the diligent work in both preserving the historic aspects of the park while ushering in a new generation of fun.”
Highlights of the new Pioneer Park include a huge multi-story playground that is ADA compliant, and a splash pad which includes a 15-foot-high water wall that is the first of its kind in Arizona. The 9,000-square-foot playground is designed to feel like you are playing in the trees. There is also a 500-foot-long elevated ribbon walkway that connects the main central plaza area to the playground.
Other improvements include remodeled restrooms with updated fixtures to comply with new ADA guidelines, relocation of two basketball courts, new landscaping in multiple areas and new plazas to enhance historic park features. LED lighting fixtures throughout the park and expanded Wi-Fi with the creation of a fiber network connection will support visitor needs and special events such as movies in the park. Approximately 130 new trees have been planted while the existing beautiful trees continue to mature. The 12 horseshoe pits remain and have been updated through the volunteer efforts of the East Valley Horseshoe Club.
While Pioneer Park has many new amenities, two of its iconic features have been preserved. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers monument, located on the south end of the park, has been updated to improve visibility and restore the interactive nature of the monument. Also, restoration work has been taking place on the historic Southern Pacific Engine No. 2355, which has been at the park since 1958. The train restoration project, which is being funded by private donations, will continue for several more months.
“Pioneer Park is an iconic part of Mesa’s history and today we get to write the next chapter,” Councilmember Chris Glover said. “This journey began five years ago when the voters of our city told us they wanted a new and improved Pioneer Park and we listened. This will be a great and attractive amenity for our residents and a focal point along the light rail. This park that we open today is for the residents to enjoy for many generations to come.”
Funding for the Pioneer Park improvements, which cost more than $7.9 million, is from the 2012 Parks Bond approved by Mesa voters.