Historically Rich

The city of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department has always tried to be a good neighbor. So when area residents approached department officials about making improvements to Catalina Park, they were happy to oblige.

Built in 1906, prior to Arizona’s statehood, the park is located in the city’s WestUniversity neighborhood near the University of Arizona. Although residents wanted to pursue a Neighborhood Reinvestment

After repurposing a wading pool that had been showing its age and adding interactive play equipment that does not require on-site staff, the facility is now experiencing a rebirth that draws people to it.   Photos courtesy of Tucson Parks and Recreation.

After repurposing a wading pool that had been showing its age and adding interactive play equipment that does not require on-site staff, the facility is now experiencing a rebirth that draws people to it. Photos courtesy of Tucson Parks and Recreation.

Grant, they quickly realized there was not enough funding for street improvements. With a desire to have a larger community impact, residents decided instead to focus on improvements to the playground and add a splash park. After repurposing a wading pool that had been showing its age and adding interactive play equipment that does not require on-site staff, the facility is now experiencing a rebirth that draws people to it.

Giving The Park An Identity

Because of the historic designation of the neighborhood and the park being a contributing asset, the plan review included approval by the Tucson-Pima County Historic Commission, as well as the neighborhood’s West University Historical Zoning Advisory Board. Sensitivity regarding what is considered historical, and what modern elements contribute to—or take away from—the history, led to many vocal meetings, requiring the diplomacy of all.

Meanwhile, the designers and builders focused on transforming an old wading pool—twice renovated over time—into a new splash pad and integrated play area. The original pool was a “draw-and-fill” pool, saucer-shaped, and easy to enter. A ramada (shelter/gazebo) with a clay-tile roof in California Mission style was originally in the center, located on a platform. To comply with a new health-code provision in the early 1980s, the gazebo was moved to the side of the pool, and an automated chlorination recirculating system was installed. During the recent renovation, the ramada received a

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facelift and a new ramp for access while the old playground was removed and replaced with a larger shaded structure with full activity elements, wood chips, rubberized surfacing, and important security area lighting. To maintain the historical elements of the park, the shade structure has a terra cotta-tile roof.

Onto The Challenges 

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  1. From Wading Pool To Splashpad
  2. From Splash Pad To Sprinkler
  3. Spray On
  4. Day-Camp Excursions
  5. Aquatic Playgrounds
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  • Departments