The city of Phoenix has received a $50,000 grant to make Blue Heron Park ready for children and families this summer after a long recovery effort from the Almeda Fire.
“It’s a small win, but we’ll take it,” said Zac Moody, planning manager for the city and author of the grant application.
The T-Mobile Hometown Grant will allow the city to add the final touches to make the park accessible and comfortable, including shade sails over the rebuilt playground area and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant benches.
“The area around the playground had bark mulch, so it burned hot,” Moody said of the fire’s destruction three years ago.
The play equipment — including rubber mats for crawling littles — was installed last year. But the fire took the trees, too, leaving the playground vulnerable to the valley’s late summer heat waves.
“We’ve planted new trees, but that’ll take a while. When it’s 95 degrees out, it’s 115 on the mats,” he said.
Blue Heron Park covers 24 acres, with play equipment, an amphitheater and a sand volleyball pit. The Bear Creek Greenway runs near the park.
Broad public support has aided the rebuilding effort at the park, Moody said.
“It’s probably cost us about half a million to build back, and we probably had $49,000 in donations from individuals, churches, businesses,” Moody said.
Money from the T-Mobile grant will also be used to install a drinking fountain, a trash can and some additional landscaping.
The city’s ad hoc committee for parks will continue to sell paving stones to raise money for future upgrades to the park, such as a basketball hoop. But as soon as the weather is warm and dry enough to dig post holes for the shade sails, Blue Heron Park will close the book on Almeda Fire repairs, Moody said.
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