Jaycee Park / Westside Multi-Generational Center
Fifth Street and Hardy Drive
Submitted by: Kevin Moore
A recently renovated, eight-acre neighborhood park.
Jaycee Park is a recently renovated, eight-acre neighborhood park located approximately 1/2 mile west of downtown Tempe, Arizona. The new park contains a state-of-the-art Multi-Generational Center, (designed by local architects Architekton), a completely redesigned children's playground with the City's first "splash playground," (a welcome respite from the desert heat for the neighborhood children), a new baseball/softball field, basketball courts, sand volleyball court, open lawn areas, crushed granite paths, picnic tables, benches and plenty of new shade trees.
The park has become a hub of activity for the adjacent neighborhoods. At any time of the day you can see senior citizens gathering at the Multi-Gen Center, school age kids doing the same, or taking advantage of the opportunities in the park, young couples walking arm-in-arm along the crushed granite paths and young men playing basketball on the two lighted courts late into the night.
The park recently won an Award of Merit from the Arizona Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, as well as a Tempe Beautification Award.
What Makes Jaycee Park / Westside Multi-Generational Center a Great Place?
Jaycee Park is accessible to members of the community in a variety of ways: most residents can walk to the park. For those who would rather ride a bike, the park is situated along a major bicycle route with adequate bike parking at several locations in the park. It is also located along the route of a free downtown shuttle. Once in the park, a system of crushed granite paths provide the major circulation routes which is a nice departure from concrete and asphalt. It gives the park a more natural but at the same time European/urban feel.
Visually, Jaycee Park is located in one of the older and "greener" sections of Tempe. The landscape in the park takes its clues from this character and continues it, although in a more formal manner in order to form spaces and reinforce circulation route, from this character.
Before its redesign, Jaycee Park had become an under-used open space with a slightly threatening feeling. Since its redesign, it has become a focus of neighborhood activity. The first impression one gets is that of a sophisticated yet comfortable place. Both men and women visit the park in equal numbers. There is plenty of comfortable seating in a variety of locations so people can sit in groups or alone, adjacent to the various activities, or off in a more quiet section of the park.
The park is being very well maintained by both City maintenance crews and members of the community. The area feels very safe as proven by its use into the evening hours by people of all ages, sexes etc. Vehicles were intentionally designed out of the space and out to its perimeter.
As stated above, the park is used by a variety of people all hours of the day, from early morning until late in the evening. Activities range from the quiet gatherings, classes, computer groups, meetings, etc. which take place in the Multi-Gen Center to the more active opportunities in the park: playground, baseball/softball, dog run, basketball, volleyball, frisbee, bbq's, picnics and strolling. There are plenty of choices, and not one section of the park goes unused.
Jaycee Park has become a type of "communal backyard" for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom live in apartments or small bungalows. There is a great mix of people ranging from students and other renters to young families with children to senior citizens. The park feels very open and safe, and this is reflected in the attitude of the residents.
History & Background
Prior to its redesign, Jaycee Park had become worn and tired. It was bisected by a small parking lot which made moving from the east end of the park to the west end awkward and somewhat dangerous. Facilities included a small baseball/softball field, a children's playground, (in which the equipment had become old, worn and out of compliance with current playground safety regulations), and an open lawn area. It was used occasionally by residents, but mostly by neighborhood "riff-raff" who used the park as a place to conduct drug sales and by the homeless who found the underused park an ideal place to set up camp.
In 1999 the City of Tempe hired The MOORE / SWICK Partnership, landscape architects and planners, to work with residents of the adjacent Riverside and Sunset Neighborhood Associations to develop a Master Plan and the subsequent construction documents for the park.
Kevin B. Moore, General Partner at the MOORE/SWICK Partnership: 480-894-9284
Mark Richwine, Director Tempe Recreation Services Department: 480-350-5200