A popular park in Santee -- and the community's oldest park, at that -- reopened Saturday after being closed for a year-long renovation that has readied the park to "serve the next generation."
Mast Park – located at 9125 Carlton Hills Blvd., near the San Diego River – closed on Dec. 4, 2018, to undergo extensive upgrades to many of its amenities. For nearly 14 months, construction crews had been hard at work renovating the public space.
Now, the time has come for its grand unveiling.
Mast Park reopened Saturday with a special ceremony on the basketball court.
"The project has transformed the city's oldest park into a showcase of environmental sustainability and a modern facility to serve the next generation," the city said in a media release.
Here's a little glimpse at how the park has changed.
Elected officials are expected to attend Saturday's big event, as well as local families who can now get back to enjoying the playground, picnic pavilions, sports areas, and its off-leash dog park.
For years, Mast Park had been known for two unique features: its off-leash dog park and disc golf course.
When the park's renovation began in late 2019, the city said the dog park area would be reconfigured to include three sections: one dedicated for puppies, another for small dogs and a third for bigger dogs. The disc golf course would also get a facelift.
A rep for the City of Santee said locals can expect to see all of those changes once they walk through the gates Saturday.
Meanwhile, the city said the park’s restroom, shade pavilion, and basketball court have been replaced with modern facilities. The playground was replaced, too, and a “nature play area” was added, which features tree trunks for kids to climb.
The playground's centerpiece is a giant slide that Bill Maertz, Director of Community Services for Santee, called "a doozy."
The project aimed to triple the amount of space in the park designated for picnics and also add parking to the northwest corner of the site. That's all been checked off the list too, the city said.
Three new picnic pavilions have been added, featuring tables, grills and ample shade, perfect for those hot summer months in Santee. Those pavilions will be available for reservations for birthday parties through the city of Santee.
There's also a new concession stand at the park that will soon be serving burgers, beer, and other snacks.
The city said another main focus of the renovation was to enhance public safety at the park. This was addressed with a few additions: a dedicated parking spot reserved for sheriff’s deputies, “improved sightlines” so deputies could see more areas of the park, and a well-lit loop trail for visitors to use.
With fresh lighting in place now, Mast Park will extend its hours to 10 p.m.
The city said most of the mature sycamore, oak and cottonwood trees that provide shade at Mast Park were untouched during the renovation. New landscape featuring drought-tolerant native plants and dry creek beds would be added.
Mast Park is one of nine parks in Santee and the oldest in the city of Santee. City leaders had been talking about their vision to renovate the park since 2011.