In the midst of an economic revival, the City of Rialto is also improving the quality of life for residents through the latest development of open spaces with the grand opening of Joe Sampson Park, located between Cactus and Randall avenues, on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The late Joe Sampson was the first African American elected to the Rialto City Council in 1994 after working for the city for 20 years, the majority of which as the City Clerk. Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson introduced a resolution to name a park in honor of Sampson, and the resolution passed in April 2017.
“My family and I we are all very deeply moved by the whole thing,” expressed Sampson’s son, Gregory Sampson. “My dad very tirelessly worked for the city, he loved the city, he loved everything that it stood for and where it was going, so for them to take the time to do something like that is just very touching.”
The 7.8-acre park, which has been vacant for over 20 years, according to Councilman Rafael Trujillo, was designed with direct input from the surrounding neighborhoods through a series of meetings over the past two years.
“Everything you see here is a result of a survey and meetings to see what they wanted to see in a park, and this is the result of all the hard work of people who came to the meetings and gave their feedback,” Trujillo said. “(The park) is something that’s welcomed, something that was planned out with the residents in mind.”
According to Community Services Director Perry Brents the top three priorities identified by residents were a walking path, gazebos and exercise equipment, all of which were taken into account during the design process and installed at the park.
“The park has been very well received, we had requests the day we opened to reserve the gazebos for reunions, baby showers; we have up to 20 reservations (as of Monday morning),” Brents indicated.
Amenities at the park include four gazebos (which must be reserved ahead of time, $50 per use), a climbing wall, two playgrounds – one for younger children on the south side and another for older kids to the north, outdoor amphitheater, basketball court and an open space.
“Residents wanted places to play soccer, but not soccer teams,” Brents explained. Games are not allowed at the park, practice sessions only.
The back wall depicts the mountains and sun, representing the history of the area. Viewed from above, one can discern a river that runs throughout the park.
LED lighting illuminates the space and can be accessed remotely off-site by computer, overseen during the evenings and weekends. According to Brents all electrical is on a timer, designed to deter overnight stays. Joe Sampson Park is located at 650 W. Randall Ave. and is open from dusk to dawn. During the summer months the park will remain open until 10 p.m.