On Oct. 25, Blythe residents from the western section of town mobilized to revamp and upgrade the neighborhood park as part of a grassroots “Clean-Up & Gathering” call to action.
The community event culminated in the public recreation area dubbed “West Side Park” by the afternoon’s participating volunteers and organizers.
“A couple of the things we have in common is the love we have for each other and this neighborhood – and our park,” said organizer Sabrina Pineda to the crowd in attendance. “I just want to thank you guys all for supporting. This is our park, this is our neighborhood, so lets keep it clean and lets just keep it going. This is not over for us right here.”
Accordingly, a “West Side Park” sign was presented to a cheering multi-generational crowd and subsequently hung up as a communal declaration of unity and pride.
“This park used to say ‘Engevic Park’ and – we don’t know what happened to the sign. But, we’re making a push; we’re going to make a push to city hall, once again – we’re going to go over there and we’re going to talk to them. And we want to make it West Side Park,” said organizer George Colangeli. “This was made by Chuy Ayala – if you guys know Chuy Ayala, he made this for us in just a couple of days. It’s just an example of what it could be; but we’re putting our name on it, right? We’re putting our name on it; there it is. So maybe we can get a few pictures – and, if you guys are on social media. Once it’s up, take some pictures of it. We want those in the community to know that this is our place, right here. This is not Todd Park, this is not Miller Park – This is West Side Park.”
Following a submitted residents’ petition presented by Pineda addressing the Blythe City Council earlier this year in January – seeking substantive action from officials on improving the state of West Side Park – citizens in the west sector of town instead opted to mobilize and revitalize the public recreation area independently.
“I’m really proud of her trying to do this – going to the city council and advocating for the park. I grew up coming here in the summers. My mom would drop me off with my grandma for, like a month and a half – and she would watch us because my mom had to work full-time. So I spent my summers, probably for like eight years, coming out here,” said Irene Leivas-Howard, a schoolteacher who traveled from San Diego to support the Oct. 25 event. “I think the city council should do something. It’s great that the community does it but if (officials) could help and restore some of the lights, things like that.”
With a bit of wind, the afternoon saw volunteers undeterred in their mission to refurbish several areas of the park, including landscaping, raking weeds and clearing bushes, providing new coats of paint to the playground equipment, blast-washing the sidewalk and center court, clearing trash, refurbishing the basketball poles, backboards, and bench, fixing the teeter totter, installing new swing-set seats and more.
The landscaping was provided by the area’s Jacob Lopez of JL Landscaping, Jimmy Lopez of Lopez Landscaping, and Guillermo Figueroa of GC Figueroa Landscaping.
Leadership also provided food, water, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) throughout for those in attendance.
“I think it shows a lot of pride when we can all come together and make a little landmark of the west side – which is what this park is,” said business owner Matthew Miller from the westside, who recently moved back to his hometown of Blythe. “We’ve seen the crumbling of this park. And now, it’s our responsibility to step up and do what we can to keep it. (...) I’ll just say this – if someone is willing to stand up, and organize something, look how many people show up to help out. And that’s really what it takes.”
The day’s organizers and leadership thanked the following for providing their time, resources and/or support for the event: Lorenzo Ramiro (Penina); Irene Leivas-Howard; Marissa Green; Estella Leivas; Margaret Cantillo; Carlos Alvardo (Stooge); Rachel Gutierez; Emily Leivas; Christina and Joey Lopez; Rosamaria Sanchez; Angela and George Colangeli; Stephanie Leivas; Jimmy and Kimmy Lopez; Jacob and Jezebel Lopez; KERU 88.5 F.M. and the Escuela de la Raza Unida (ERU); Guillermo Figueroa; Chuy Ayala; Tina Leivas Herrera; Abel Zarate; Diana Diaz; Anthony and Sabrina Flores; and all westside residents who lent their time towards the day’s mission.