Pioneer Park, one of Mesa, Arizona’s oldest parks, was originally a coveted asset for those living near the city’s busy downtown. The park, its surrounding neighborhood, and its population, however, deteriorated as families migrated further from the city center.
Pioneer Park had become run-down, graffiti-infested, and a hangout for shady characters at the turn of the century. One of its most famous attractions, an antique railroad engine, was overrun with feral cats and encircled by a foreboding steel topped fence. Long-time inhabitants, however, valued Pioneer Park despite its deterioration, remembering it warmly for what it had previously meant to them.
The City of Mesa publicly recognized the persistent issues that plagued Pioneer Park in the early 2000s, but also saw opportunity. The park was seen as an asset by city authorities, who saw it as a way to bring new energy to the still-slumbering downtown while also offering much-needed local, walkable space for long-time inhabitants.
The city used bond financing to develop the park area in 2012, but authorities understood that more needed to be done based on early planning and consultations with neighborhood members. Dig Studio has started a master planning and design process.
Pioneer Park is now Mesa’s hallmark public space, with “the mother of all water features,” an attraction for local kids eager to have some fun in the sun. A playground has also been added to showcase the rich and distinct tree canopies found only in the southern United States.
Residents of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds are invited to participate in the playground, which has play elements that weave among the trees and is visible from the light rail station close to Pioneer Park. To foster a link between Pioneer Park and adjacent downtown Mesa, a plaza space was constructed for markets and other community activities.
Long-time locals are happy with the results, characterizing Pioneer Park as “coming back” after a long period of neglect. New community activities have developed since the park reopened in 2017, and previous activities have been enhanced by Pioneer Park upgrades.
Amenities of Pioneer Park:
- Play structures in the trees
- Splash pad with 15-foot water wall
- Suspension bridge of 500 feet
- Food Truck/Food Court Area 9,000 sq. ft. playground
- Trains and Monuments of the Past
- Ramadas for shaded picnics (first-come, first-serve)
- Shaded picnic ramadas can be reserved by calling (480) 644-PLAY (7529)
- The Foundation for Mesa Parks and Recreation provided a playground with toddler swings.
- Basketball Courts with Lights
- Tables for Picnics
- Horseshoes- Pioneer Park’s horseshoe section is free to use by reservation only. Reservations must be booked at least seven days ahead of time. Please contact 480-644-PLAY to book a reservation (7529) 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
By Azwatchdog – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5816262
Mesa, Arizona is blessed to be home to many amazing parks. Here’s a short list of our favorites:
- Riverview Park
- Dobson Ranch Park
- Greenfield Park
- Falcon Field Park
- Mariposa Park
- Desert Arroyo Park
- Countryside Park
- Signal Butte Park
All of these wonderful parks are located just a short distance from our location at 1630 South Stapley Drive, Suite 212 in Mesa, Arizona! Stop by for a visit anytime!