This is the 28th installment of “Old Pueblo Abuelo,” a thought on positive things happening in the Old Pueblo from a sometimes cranky and often times humorous grandfather actually born in Tucson and writing from my desk in Tucson, the Old Pueblo.…
Sometime Monday morning, while most in the Old Pueblo were getting ready to celebrate Labor Day, the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department released on social media a rather interesting “Master Plan” on the future of Reid Park that, in their words, includes, “…imaginative proposals intended to stimulate conversations and creative thinking about the park’s future.”
The Gene C. Reid Park Master Plan Development is comprised of ONLY three concepts:
Concept 1 keeps two baseball fields from the Reid Park Annex while Concept 2 and Concept 3 have designs for only one field, presumably designated for use by the University of Arizona which plays in Hi Corbett.
“These three concepts are bold and will help the community identify trade-offs and priorities among diverse cultural, recreational, and environmental opportunities. The end-goal of Phase two: bring together the best parts of each concept to create a visionary Reid Park that meets the needs of Tucson over the next 50 years.”
I agree, eliminating the only multi-field option for our youth, high school, adult and senior leagues to play in the Tucson City limits is rather “bold” and it is an interesting “end-goal.”
When I questioned this “boldness,” the Parks Department posted a canned response:
“We are testing a range of possibilities utilizing the concepts and questions in the survey to gauge successes and opportunities for improvement which will result in a final master plan which will also be presented to the community and given a chance for comment. We encourage you to take the survey and supply your comments. Also, please join us on Sept. 10, 5-7 p.m. at Reid Park if you’d like to discuss with planning staff.”
Fair enough, the Parks and Recreation department provided a link to the concepts and to a survey while inviting the public to discuss their options with “planning staff.”
The elimination of the Reid Park Annex might not be a done deal but it draws into question how the three concepts came about if all stakeholders were really listened to. Legendary youth and adult baseball figure Bill Leith tells me he was initially asked to give his view on what the Master Plan should look like but none of the expert advice and knowledge he passed on made it to the three concepts.
“I’ve put together over 7,000 baseball games in the last 12 years,” Leith told me. “1,000 of those were probably at Reid Park. Everything from youth to American Legion. The senior men’s league probably uses it the most. My question now would be if the City has other plans to replace the baseball fields at another park and will those fields be ready before the Reid Park fields are destroyed?”
The Reid Park Zoo was founded in 1967. The first mention in the local media of the “Hi Corbett Annex,” the “Randolph Annex” or the “Reid Park Annex” was almost a decade prior to the construction of the Zoo in the late 1950s. The Baseball Annex has been a part of our community for over 65 years.
“I played there as a kid and I coached there,” said Cienega head coach Kelly Johnson. “I think losing all those fields would be devastating to our community. There’s a lot of history there and it’s cost efficient for our community to use. There are no real options for our kids in Tucson.”
Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik responded to my question on the elimination of Reid Park in a very positive way:
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, and I suggested to our parks staff that they connect with the adult leagues, and consider the Korean leagues use all four fields when they come to town. Kino’s an option of course, but they’re nowhere near to being midtown so the convenience factor is lost. The plans are not final – go to the briefing being given by the parks staff at the DeMeester Amphitheater this Saturday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. and let them know your thoughts.”
Kozachik gave his full comments on the subject on the Bill Buckmaster Show today (Aug. 8) and he would like all to listen to his complete thoughts on the elimination of the baseball annex:
In addition, Councilman Paul Cunningham is also opposed to the elimination of the Reid Park Annex. That’s’ two votes and I’m working on another.
I know the discussion with the planning committee comes at a terrible time for Wildcat fans (Saturday night) and I am told the timing was not done on purpose. Having been in politics most of my adult life, I can tell you there will be plenty of people at the DeMeester Amphitheater this Saturday night from 5-7 p.m. who will see nothing wrong with a “Hammock Grove” replacing the baseball fields and they will be vocal. If you really care about sports in Tucson then get down there and be courteous.
There will also be a chance to speak during Call to the Audience at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. Only take about a minute and, again, be courteous and respectful. I know several youth baseball coaches will be speaking that night. Do not use your dugout voice.
Finally, another longtime local baseball figure from a rich baseball family gave his input on what the loss would mean. Marcos Bejarano grew up across the street from Randolph Park:
“The Annex for me was several families camping out the night before Memorial Day Tournaments that Randolph Little League would host with tents and the entire community everywhere. 4th of July Fireworks that were set off at the annex as families watched from Field 5 which is no longer.
Randolph was home to the best Senior League Fields in the city. As kids, we got to see the Indians, Rockies and DBacks practice at the fields and were almost always guaranteed a Major League home run ball that left the field. I saw my two older brothers Mike and Phillip play baseball at the Annex, myself included. In the past few years each of my boys Diego, Mario and Armando have had the opportunity to play there as well.
The Annex has been and will always be a part of our neighborhood and the entire Tucson Community.”
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by the Sunnyside School District and by Tucson City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org