PALMDALE — The city’s oldest park, Courson Park, at 10th Street East and Avenue Q-12, has been refreshed and revitalized as a gathering place for the downtown neighborhood, thanks in part to the efforts of volunteers who took part in beautification events.
That renewal was marked Thursday morning in a celebration that also unveiled the city’s 10th edition of its “Walk on Words” public art poetry program, stamped into the concrete in a park walkway. The poem titled “My Neighborhood,” by resident Michael Adams, was selected during a contest earlier this year.
“This is all part of the transformation of this neighborhood,” Mayor Steve Hofbauer said.
Named for Melville Courson, the city’s first unofficial mayor, the park and its pool were built by Los Angeles County in 1949, 13 years before Palmdale was made a city.
“Sometimes it shows its age,” Hofbauer said. “Hence the rebuild became necessary.”
The park has been closed since early 2018 as part of a project that includes replacing the community pool and pool house. Because the project involved turning utilities on and off during construction, the entire park was closed.
Renovations to the pool and a new pool house are nearly complete, and city staff expects to celebrate their opening in August.
“This has kind of been a sore spot in the community for quite a while,” Mayor Pro Tem Austin Bishop said.
The city is committed to restoring “the heart of Palmdale” and bringing back quality of life to the neighborhood, he said.
More than 100 volunteers helped refresh the park during two beautification days, an effort that included planting 20 box trees; repairing and replacing lumber for wood tables and benches, then sanding and painting them; and spreading wood mulch in planters.
In addition, trash cans were replaced, the restroom building roof and plumbing were repaired, weeds in the turf were treated and the sidewalks were pressure-washed.
The new poem which graces the walkway not far from the pool is an especially fitting addition to the park. Author Adams is retired from the city’s housing division, where he worked on the planning for the Courson Park area revitalization. The project includes the new Courson Art Colony apartments across the street from the park, which contributed to the park renewal efforts.
“It’s an honor” to have his poem included in the park, Adams said Thursday, as he saw 15 years ago the start of what the area would become.
In addition to Adams, the runners-up in the poetry contest were also recognized Thursday.
Honorable mention winners were Daniel Dassler, Louis Denning, Roxanne Joseph-Glenn, Mary Gonzalez, Jury Magana, John Pastor, Giselle Reyes, and Oliver Weese.
“It’s a shame we can only do one at a time, because we get so many great poems,” said Ben Lucha, a member of the city’s Public Art Committee.
As improvements to the area continue, the city is planning further volunteer beautification events at Courson Park, including plans for a mural on the back wall of the basketball court, Recreation and Culture Director Keri Smith said.