For the love of parks

Posted: October 27th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Gen-X in a Millennial World | No Comments

By Genevieve Suzuki

Our parks are a gift, La Mesa, and the sooner you realize it, the better it will be for your families and pocketbooks.

As a parent who lives in this fine city, I can’t get enough of our free spaces. My son, a 2 year old who sometimes seems as though he could have inspired the character of Damian from “The Omen,” loves to run around the grassy areas and watch his big sister happily climb the jungle gyms and swing from the bars.

Parks in La Mesa are perfect for energetic children. (Photo by Genevieve Suzuki)

When I take my kids to a park, I know I won’t have to worry about people giving me the stink eye when my toddler screams at the top of his lungs before falling down as though he’s fainted. I know my daughter can exhaust her endless supply of energy so she will get a good night’s sleep before school. And I know my husband won’t suffer from sticker shock when I come home to tell him I have purchased absolutely nothing.

It’s no secret I am a big fan of our parks. (I’m not the only one; check out the songs “Saturday in the Park” and “MacArthur Park.”) As a City of La Mesa Community Services commissioner, I have two parks I visit regularly: La Mesita and Rolando. Although Rolando is a fantastic park with two baseball fields, a concession stand and a cozy playground, La Mesita is my favorite.

La Mesita boasts a skate park, several tennis courts, a playground and a large grassy area that hosts mini soccer games, family picnics and seemingly endless games of tag. It also has a nice walking area for people working toward their 10,000 daily step goal.

While I am proud of my two parks, I admit I’m really excited about MacArthur Park, the park located near the La Mesa Community Center. MacArthur Park, which is being renovated, is currently in the ideas phase. An Opportunities and Constraint Study is being conducted to figure out MacArthur Park’s future. There are countless possibilities for this 22.2-acre park, which makes my head spin with what could be.

One of my personal wishes is for the park to feature a restaurant or café I could visit at lunchtime with clients or friends. The idea that we could be enjoying something better than hot dogs and a Coke at a La Mesa park is likely one of my favorite being discussed.

MacArthur Park has a lot of potential, some of which was exploited Oct. 21 at the La Mesa Park and Recreation Foundation’s second annual Cornhole Tournament. Food trucks, bouncy houses, vendors and families gathered while participants tossed beanbags at cornhole boards around the park. Proceeds went to the foundation, which supports La Mesa’s parks and programs in an effort to strengthen community bonds.

And while a good time was had by all, I can’t help thinking about making MacArthur Park even better. What’s to stop us from having a Prado of our own in La Mesa? Why can’t my husband and I enjoy a date night at a La Mesa park (without prompting a call to our local police)?

If you feel like I do, or even if you have another brilliant idea, I urge you to take advantage of an online survey seeking community input:

— Genevieve A. Suzuki is a local attorney who lives and works in La Mesa. She also sits on the Community Services Commission and the board of directors of the La Mesa Park and Recreation Foundation.

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