This article appeared in the October 20 issue of the Progress Times.
Mayor Dr. Armando O’caña and the Mission City Council celebrated their groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for the new all-inclusive Lions Park. The new park’s opening date is to be determined but will remain at the same location it’s always been.
“Today is an emotional, exciting day for our city,” O’caña said. “We all played in this park, and we have many great memories with our family and with our children. And many of you present here have done the same thing.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony was state representative Sergio Muñoz Jr., parks director Brad Bentsen, and Precinct 3 commissioner Ever Villarreal.
“Having a park for all abilities is so important because all children deserve to have a safe place to play,” O’caña said. “I am so proud of the progress we have been making and we’re going to continue to make. This groundbreaking represents the culmination of a lot of hard work, and it marks the next step for our city. This will be a peaceful place of happiness, one that all our residents will be proud of. I can assure you that the resources we are using are very well invested, since this park aims to promote family values and healthy recreation. I am counting the day until the ribbon-cutting, and I cannot wait to see our families gather in this park.”
The Sparks cheerleaders, part of the Capable Kids foundation, performed a cheer during the ceremony as well.
“We want this place to be for everyone,” O’caña said. “We hope the trails, the splash pads, and they playgrounds will be to your liking and that you make beautiful memories in the company of your family. Our goal is to make play fun, happy and inclusive for all Mission children, because we are stronger together. Again, thank you for joining us today and being part of another chapter of Mission’s story.”
City manager Randy Perez spoke next, highlighting the amenities and features the upcoming park will have to offer the city’s residents.
“We’re making a dream into reality,” Perez said. “This project will consist of three phases: Phase 1 is the all-inclusive park. Phase 2 would encompass the community center area. And Phase 3 is the newly acquired properties that the City of Mission has purchased. It will include an all-inclusive play area, a toddler area, a splash pad area, a bike training area, a Bankshot basketball area, basketball courts, exercise areas, walking trails and a large pavilion with a kitchen for family gatherings. The equipment was specifically chosen to accommodate the variety of disabilities from wheelchair users to those children with sensory needs. The new inclusive play space will add thousands of square feet of sensory-rich features that enable children to develop physically, socially, and emotionally. Every child will be able to maneuver through here. And that’s important because outdoor play stimulates speech, cognitive skills, fine motor skills and social skills.
Councilman Beto Vela has his heart in this project because his son has special needs, and he sees the great benefits this all-inclusive park will have for every person in our city.
“My son has special needs, and this was one of the first things that I wanted to do when I got appointed to council, was bring an all-inclusive environment to the city,” Vela said. “I’m very happy that we got our wish and everybody worked together to make this all happen, and make the community stronger. You can enjoy your family in Mission, there’s going to be lots to do for everybody. The commissioner’s going to donate a pavilion so people can have parties. Things that you might not be able to do at other parks, you can do here at this location. And we wanted to make sure it was centrally located. One nice park instead of several parks with less amenities. It’s going to bring you into the heart of Mission, and it should really help us progress in that manner. We’re hoping for it to open in the next 6 to 8 months, we want them to do the best they can and get the ball rolling. We’ve been working on this for 2 years, trying to get funding, but we finally got it and we just can’t wait.”