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GARDEN GROVE : Pioneer Park Being Given a New Look

After years of being a gathering place for the homeless and gang members, Pioneer Park is undergoing a rebirth.

Construction is in full swing to convert the four-acre parcel on Chapman Avenue from a woodsy, day-camp type of park to a facility that offers more varied activities, including roller hockey.

Funded by state park bond money, the $400,000 project includes installing new concrete walks, picnic tables, restrooms, landscaping and lights. The centerpiece is a lighted roller hockey rink with bleachers for spectators.

The spruced-up park is expected to reopen in November, according to Community Services Director Michael Fenderson.

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“It was originally designed for picnics, and (for people) to get away from the hustle and bustle of life,” Fenderson said. “We cannot afford that anymore. The park has to have more uses.”

He said residents have complained that the park, with its tall trees and wide grassy areas, was becoming a haven for the homeless and a hangout for gang members.

“People were afraid to go there,” Fenderson said.

John Vega, 10, who lives near the park, said his mother prohibited him from playing there. On his way to school, he would walk far out of his way just to avoid the park, he added.

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One time, he said, he and his friends were confronted by a drunk who threw empty beer bottles at them.

The refurbished park “will be great,” he said. “I have a hockey stick and my brother has a roller blade. It will be fun.”


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