A blooming flower in the ghetto


Sofia Macedo Garcia with images from https://www.santa-ana.org/standard-mcfadden-park/

In hopes of building a nice park on the streets of Standard and McFadden, the project manager wishes to benefit this community.

Santa Ana has always been labeled as the wasteland of Orange County. Therefore, everybody gets on the bandwagon of rumors and goes along with the impression that Santa Ana is horrible. Even in the darkness of this continuous perspective, there are still projects that are made or ongoing in hopes to better the view of Santa Ana. In this case, it would be the Standard and McFadden Streets project. This project focuses on putting a skatepark or turf with a playground on an empty plot of land. Although it would be seen as a generous and bright idea to do, there are also problems that can come from building this wonderful park near these streets. Standard and McFadden Streets are known for vandalism, low income, and crimes. Therefore, would this creation of the park be affecting property values, which then affects rent values, worsening what is already bad?

As someone who lives basically on the streets chosen for the park, I get to experience firsthand how this place is. Although I have become pretty much desensitized to what happens around there, it is pretty bad. Acts of vandalism, robbery, assault, and sometimes even murder are common crimes around this area. Therefore, it immediately made me wonder if it would be a good idea to build a park here. Additionally, this also raised more questions for me — would it affect property values and rent values around the area? As someone who lives here, the rent is pretty cheap, but you can tell when that is the most people can afford. This made me concerned for my own community. Why would I stand for something that helps us in a small run and only ends up pushing others away? All these thoughts of mine made me believe that I have one choice.

After some research and emailing, I was able to identify the project manager for this park. I am elated to provide the answers to the questions many people would have when something big like this would happen in a place that is so overlooked. I am honored to say that the project Manager, Suzi Furjanic, was able to give professional and analytical answers.

First of all, I think that the first question that popped into my head when I heard they wanted to build a park in this stressful environment, was why? Why would they choose such a place?

Furjanic stated, “Effort to add much needed open space and build a community park in a densely populated, and park deficient area of the city. The amenities the park will offer are a result of community feedback received during various community outreach efforts that were part of the park planning process.”

Hearing this was actually very interesting to me. In fact, it would’ve never crossed my mind that these streets are park deficient. As someone who would now be living next to this park, it made me glad to hear this. It is true, perhaps a park around here would heighten the looks and overall enjoyment of the place. Not only that but there are big families around this area. I am more than sure that they would love an area to spend family time somewhere close and nice. I believe that with a park near such a densely populated area, people will now focus on investing their time and energy in a better pastime, instead of looking for trouble.

Furjanic’s next statement echoes my own hopes for this park.

“This recreational opportunity will provide other outlets and opportunities for the children to engage in positive activities. Play areas will also include active learning features to engage the children as they play and learn through the process,” she said.

Throughout the questions and answers, I picked up on a pattern. Many of the benefits this park will bring are extremely beneficial to the community. Although it might’ve been seen as if this park will fall victim to the crime and vandalism, it is as if it will actually help fight this. With a huge distraction in the midst of all the bad, children will be able to grow in a healthier and more nourishing environment. This park will only encourage others to indulge in something better for themselves and the community. 

From my experience, the darkness of the area after sundown is also a problem. Of course, it’s nighttime, but there is no real security or streetlights around. Especially in the winter, it can get riskier because it starts getting dark at 5 p.m. and on days I have to pick up my niece from school, everything starts to seem to blend into the darkness of nothingness. Therefore, I am more than elated to announce the security and safety measures Furjanic would like to implement in this park.

Furjanic said, “ The area is also designed to provide space for parents to sit as they oversee their children in the play area. LED security lighting will be installed in the park and parking lot; this will help with the visibility and security of the area.”

Many of these proposals sound amazing to me. It really seems that Furjanic and her team would like to work on bettering this place and making it appeal to the people around it. Moreover, I believe that now we should talk about the elephant in the room that I stated in the beginning. When I started thinking more about this park, I was wondering if it would increase the property value and rent of the people surrounding it. I thought to myself, of course, this would be a great addition to the streets, but would there be anything great about this if it pushed the people around it, out? I am more than relieved when Furjanic gave me a response to this same question.

“We do not anticipate a park of this size to have a major impact on property values or rent increases. The most value that a park can bring is a sense of pride and belonging.” Furjanic stated.

As someone who lives near these streets, I am happy that there could be something out there that could potentially better what is going on around this area. Especially if it won’t disrupt the people that are already currently living there. If this park were to be built, I would be extremely supportive of it and I am happy to spread awareness about it so many others get to be able to support this spot as well. I’d like to give a big thank you to Furjanic and end on a good note.

Furjanic lastly stated, “We are hoping that the community will take ownership of the park, to ensure positive use of the area. If more residents use the park in a positive way, the less vandalism and negative impacts will occur.”