The Town of Marana celebrated Arbor Day last week, and used the opportunity to break ground on a new community park.
Gathered in the Honea Heights neighborhood last Friday, April 27 town staff was joined by Mayor Ed Honea and Councilmembers Patti Comerford, Dave Bowen and John Officer to mark the beginning of the neighborhood’s new community pocket park. The celebration also fortified the town’s commitment as a Tree City USA.
The town’s parks and recreation director Jim Conroy lead the ceremony, and told the assembly that the new park would be “a jewel in north Marana.”
“What you’re looking at out here is about 33,000 square feet of park, and I think we’ve really brought a lot of great elements into this property,” he said.
The site will house a basketball court, open green space with trees and other vegetation, a playground structure with shade and a barbecue/ramada area for gatherings. Grating and other work has already been performed to prepare the location, but last week’s ceremony marked a point at which development starts “going vertical,” as Conroy said.
Bringing the park to the community will be a boon for all, staff indicated, though the work holds a special place in the heart of Mayor Honea—who said he was “really excited” to see the work begin.
Honea Heights is not named after the mayor, but instead his parents who developed the neighborhood.
“It started in about 1953, this was a cotton farm, and my dad decided that he didn’t like to farm,” Honea said. “So he subdivided the land and took a water well that was for irrigation and started a water company, which was the first water company that the town of Marana purchased as well.”
The mayor has called the area home, having lived near the park site for a quarter century and raised his children in a home visible from the development.
“It’s very special to me, but it should be very special to this community,” Honea said. “If we look at all of the growth we have in this community, and all of the beautiful parks that we’re very proud of—sometimes I think we forget from where we came…I think that the significance of making an investment here and creating a place for our kids to go and have a good time—It’s really, really important.”
With some assistance from parks and recreation staff, councilmembers and staff planted the first tree on the property in honor of Arbor Day. The recognition of the occasion was approved by council earlier in the month. At the ceremony, parks Superintendent David Herman
Herman is also the chairman of the local Tree City Board, responsible for the Tree City Designation and a member of the Southern Arizona Arborist Group.
“One of the requirements of being a Tree City USA is celebrating Arbor Day,” Herman said. “Arbor Day is so important for the community, for the town and for the country. Trees bring so much to everybody. It’s a beautiful thing to be under a nice shade tree. It brings economic prosperity. It actually helps everybody emotionally.”
Arbor Day celebrates the role of trees in life and promotes planting and caring for trees. The holiday was first formally observed in Nebraska in 1872. More than a million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day. Since its founding by J. Sterling Morton, inclusion of the holiday has spread across the globe.