San Diego

Logan Heights Community Park Gets Upgrades

Community organizers come up with a solution to the graffiti problem at a Logan Heights park

New fixtures are in place at a Logan Heights park, and more features are being added after community members gave their input.

A new basketball court now stands in place of a maze at the Gilliam Family Community Space and Garden, located on Imperial Avenue, between 28th and 29th streets.

The park was an abandoned 5,000-square-foot lot, donated to the community for five years by owner Derrick Gilliam.

BAME Community Development Corporation led the grass-roots effort to transform the lot, and now maintains the park, which opened in January 2016.

Jeremy Haman, community and economic development coordinator at BAME CDC, told NBC 7 the organization asked park visitors over the summer what changes they wanted to see at the park.

Haman said visitors wanted an active zone and something new at the entryway, so more people would know the park was open to the public.

On Saturday, dozens of volunteers, including members of The Mission Continues, finished the basketball court and foursquare area.

The maze that was replaced, and many of the features in the park, including an amphitheater, tree house and picnic tables, were designed and built by artists at Space 4 Art and students at King-Chavez Community High School in downtown and High Tech High in Chula Vista.

Haman said materials from the maze won't go to waste, and will be used for other needs at the park; for example, wiring from the maze will be used as a barrier so basketballs won't fall into neighboring property.

The unused materials will go back to Space 4 Art.

"The process empowered the community, so it's natural for them to decide to want to change something in the park," said Space 4 Art co-founder Bob Leathers.

BAME CDC also addressed a problem at the park: graffiti.

Haman said offensive markings started appearing on some of the park fixtures several months ago, and BAME CDC had to close the park for two weeks in the spring.

Haman said the park reopened in May after employees with SERVPRO in La Jolla removed all of the graffiti, free of charge.

On Saturday, community volunteers put up what they call a graffiti wall. The wall is a fence inside the park, painted white, and available for anyone to mark or spray paint.

"We actually talked to some of the kids, and everyone was in agreement that something like a graffiti wall would channel that creativity in a more positive way, and be beneficial to everyone," said Haman.

"Every couple of months, once it's filled up, we'll just paint it over again with more white paint, and then they can just add more graffiti to it," added Haman.

The next project will be to add a brick pathway at the entrance, to make it more inviting to the public.

Ongoing projects at the park include adding community gardens and a performance stage.

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