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Jun 11, 2013 2:21 AM by Sean Mooney

Joaquin Murrieta Park facelift part of revitalizing Barrio Hollywood

TUCSON - Attempts to revitalize Barrio Hollywood on Tucson's west side have recently included an proposal to build a Grand Canyon University satellite campus on the site of the El Rio Golf Course.

Even though organizers rallied and shut the project down the community is still determined to find ways to improve the area. Part of the plan was further revealed on Monday with the presentation of the master plan for Joaquin Murietta Park at the El Rio Neighborhood Center.

With the GCU project now shelved and plans for the city's public golf courses still very much in the air, residents living in the Barrio Hollywood area are now focused on a project they say will benefit everyone in the community.

One of the projects architects, Donald McGann, says the master plan involved not just improving the park but also keeping the community's history in mind, "The park is worn, it's a little tattered kind of run down," he said, "and so a facelift and new improvements and facilities to support that historic use of the park was important."

For weeks meetings were held to find out what improvements were most needed at Joaquin Murietta Park. At the meeting the master plan was presented with something for everyone, including a community pool, upgraded softball fields, a lighted soccer field and a plaza for community events.

All told, a total cost of $11 million. Residents are hoping they will get $5 million in the city's next bond funding for phase one. Jean Ramirez lives across the street from the park and says she believes the improvements will encourage her neighbors to come back to the park, "If it looks better, it's more inviting, I think more people will use it."

The El Rio Coalition II, the group behind blocking the GCU project would like to see the city make an even bigger commitment. The group's chairperson, Cecilia Cruz-Baldenegro wants the city to keep a promise she says they made eight months ago, "We would like to see the mayor and council go back to their October 23, 2012 unanimous vote to keep El Rio (Golf Course) open and to start building it as a family park with golfing for children and families," she said.

At the meeting residents voted on what improvements they would most like to see included in phase one of the Joaquin Murietta project. Those results will be presented to the city council on July 9.

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