TUCSON (KVOA) – After years of complaints from neighbors, a city park just north of downtown is undergoing a major turnaround.
Anza Park is located on the corner of Speedway and Stone, at the entrance to downtown, Pima College and the University of Arizona.
Over the years, the park has earned a reputation as a hotspot for drug traffickers and the homeless.
This is all starting to change.
For residents of the neighborhoods around Anza Park, the past few years have been frustrating.
The playground and other areas had been overrun by drug dealers, and the park had simply become unsafe.
“No one really took ownership of the park, and the neighborhood really needed to have someone other than criminals here,” said Judy Sensibar, president of the West University Neighborhood Association.
As neighbors grew concerned about the park’s problems, Tucson police began to focus their efforts on eliminating criminal elements, including those selling methamphetamine and other drugs.
Officers from TPD’s Park Mental Health and Safety Support Teams also focused on turning things around.
“We offered assistance for the homeless. We also offered resources on drug addiction, so we don’t just kick them out of the park,” Tucson Police Lt. Belinda Morales told the Digging Deeper team. “We also give them what they need to be successful.
Construction of a dog park began in March under Proposal 407, and this $ 180,000 project is now complete.
The city will also build new toilets to replace damaged ones, and it is also working to find additional funds for new Ramadas.
“A lot of the improvements relate to safety and security; then our side for the parks department, ”said Tom Fisher, project manager with the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department. “Our goal is to activate the park and take it back from the troublemakers.”
Tucson Police say things are improving a lot in Anza Park and the most serious crime in the area has declined since officers stepped up enforcement.
The TPD also credits the involvement of the community in helping to make the park safe for everyone.
“It’s contagious, and having this park available to neighborhood residents brings a different quality of life. said Lieutenant Morales.
The grand opening of the new dog park is set for this Friday, September 10 at 11 a.m.