Nearly 20 years after a small patch of land in the Bayview was promised to be developed into a neighborhood park, residents have a glimmer of hope that brighter times are ahead for their barren parcel.
In 1987 the Planning Commission issued a permit for a developer to build 43 homes off of Meade Avenue in the Bayview district on the condition that two parcels of land, totaling about 5,000 square feet, be turned over to the Recreation and Park Department to develop a neighborhood park.
Almost 20 years later the finishing touches are being put on the final house in the development, but the two lots remain empty, with no signs of development.
"It’s been Le Conte Mini all this time, but the issue is, closing the books," Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said, referring to the name of the proposed park. She added that the land was turned over to The City in the last six months.
The details of the property transfer have to be finalized before any plans or development can begin, according to Dennis. She said lack of money is also a problem.
"I don’t think there is a lack of community will," said Marsha Pendergrass, who has been living in the neighborhood for 11 years, about why the park has not been developed yet.
Isabelle Wade, the executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council, said the Bayview area is in desperate need of parks.
"We are trying to find sponsors now to come forward to help develop this park," she said, adding that developing the park would cost an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million.
Working with a landscape architect, residents have developed a concept drawing for what they would like the hillside lot turned into.
The plan calls for open space at the top of the hill with a small community room. The architect’s plan would have indigenous rocks, plants and a terraced area on the slope so residents could walk up the hill and have a view of the entire city. At the bottom of the hill there would be a small children’s play area.
Ralph House, a longtime resident on the street who fought the developer in the 1980s to make sure the land was used for a park and not housing, said when residents initially began to inhabit the neighborhood they wanted to ensure their children had a place to play.
"They were playing in the streets and we were afraid that someone was going to get hit by a car," he said, adding that all these years later the kids have grown up but residents still need a place to go because there are no parks nearby. There is open space within walking distance, according to Pendergrass, but there is no accessible trail.