1. Strengthens Community Image and Sense of Place
City of Mesa's parks and facilities provide a place for the community to gather for intimate groups on up to large public events. Mesa’s well-maintained parks beautify the areas in which they reside and create a sense of nature in many urban areas. Park picnic ramadas are reserved thousands of times a year, and host public events with many happy attendees. Parks are used to host weddings, company picnics, family reunions, non-profit events, and wide range of other special events. The City of Mesa hosts a variety of events that bring our community together including the bi-annual “Celebrate Mesa”, 4th of July “Celebration of Freedom”, and Christmastime “Merry Main Street”.
2. Supports Economic Development
Mesa’s public parks, professional baseball stadiums, sport and aquatic complexes, convention center and amphitheater are not just for the locals but visitors as well. These amenities draw tourism dollars to the community, as they generate overnight stays, and patronage for restaurants, retail stores, gas stations, etc. Mesa hosts soccer, baseball, softball, flag football, kickball, disc golf, lacrosse, and tennis tournaments at our premier Parks and Recreation facilities. Festivals and special events hosted within City parks also draw visitors from around the region that patronize Mesa businesses. In 2017, the Department served as the host site for 30 community events with 123,000 people in attendance, generating an estimated $2.46 million dollars in economic development.
3. Strengthens Safety and Security
Parks and Recreation help increase safety and security in the community. Here are a few examples of how Mesa Parks and Recreation helps our community in this regard.
Park Rangers are a vital part of the safety, security and goodwill of the guest experience at Mesa City Parks. The Park Rangers work closely with the City of Mesa Police to promote family friendly activities and ensure a safe and appropriate park environment. Rangers are trained in law enforcement, emergency response, environmental education, crowd management, and working with individuals in our community who are experiencing homelessness.
Park Maintenance staff patrol park playgrounds, sports complexes, and aquatic facilities regularly conducting safety inspections and replacing or repairing any worn or damaged equipment. Inspection staff must complete a rigorous training course and maintain national certifications in the certification process.
Learn-to-Swim and Water Safety are a big part of the Aquatic program as Mesa strives promote swimming and water safety skills throughout the community, and reduce the incidents of backyard and waterway drownings. Learn-to-Swim lessons are taught in the spring, summer and fall seasons with over 10,000 participants learning water safety skills each year.
The Making Waves program offers swim lesson and aquatic team scholarships to hundreds of families in need each year. Funding for Making Waves is sponsored by SRP, Mesa HohoKam Foundation and the Foundation for Mesa Parks and Recreation. To keep the City pool sites safe, lifeguards, swim instructors and team coaches along with Jr. Lifeguard volunteers complete over 50 hours of safety training. April Pools Day and Pechanga en la Piscina are two free water safety events that invite families to visit the pool, learn about water safety, and pick up related water safety materials.
The Positive Play Project provides parent and youth sports coach trainings in the areas of sportsmanship, positive coaching, concussion awareness, injury prevention hydration, nutrition, and access to safety gear and financial assistance. This program has served over 2,200 youth, and over 200 coaches to offer safe and meaningful youth sports experiences. Successful partnerships and grant funding help sustain this program with support from AT Still University, NextCare, Positive Coaching Alliance, National Alliance for Youth Sports, Mesa Hohokam Foundation, Mesa Community College, and the National Park and Recreation Association.
4. Promotes Health and Wellness
According to the Surgeon General, "Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most important things that people of all ages can do to improve their health." National obesity statistics are sobering, with more than two-thirds of adults and nearly one in three children considered overweight or obese.
Sport leagues and clinics are offered in Mesa for both adults and youth including softball, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, kickball and flag football. In 2017 over 891 adult sports teams and 2,200 individual youth participated in City sports programs. In addition, the Department has developed strong partnerships with Community Youth Groups that offer Little League Baseball, T-ball, youth soccer, lacrosse, and flag football programs to over 8000 Mesa youth.
Trails, fitness stations, playgrounds, sports courts, and ballfields are scattered throughout the 204 park properties comprised of 2,534 acres. Many of these facilities are open and available for drop-in use by the local community. Ball fields and Sport Complex facilities may need to be reserved for use.
Mesa’s five Community Recreation Centers offer gymnasiums, activity/ rooms, fitness rooms, an indoor track, and a rock wall. These sites offer after-school and summer programs for youth that focus on healthy lifestyle and youth development programs. A wide variety of fitness, sports and special interest classes are offered including youth and adult sports leagues, dance, tumbling, music, martial arts, visual arts, weight training, personal and group fitness/wellness coaching, Zumba, yoga, aerobics, Pilates, indoor cycling, kick boxing and Silver Sneaker programs.
The Fun ‘n Fitness Van travels to parks, schools and special event locations to provide active recreation to City neighborhoods with park or open space deficits. The van is packed with a variety of sport and game equipment, music, and fun. Informational materials on healthy lifestyle practices, nutrition, and hydration are made available to families visiting Fun ‘n Fit locations. In 2017 the Fun ‘n Fit van served over 5,000 youth.
The Mesa Tennis Center offers 16 tennis courts plus one practice court that is also available for pickleball. The Center plays host to 45 local traveling league teams, as well as over 1200 participants enrolled in in-house lessons and leagues.
Mesa’s nine (9) Aquatic Centers offer both open public swimming, learn to swim lessons, competitive teams, aquatic fitness classes and lap swimming. Competitive in-house teams in swimming, springboard diving, water polo and synchronized swimming programs served 2,677 youth in 2017. Year-round teams are also provided through local swim club partners who boast over 3,000 members combined. The Rhodes Aquatic Complex offers a stationary surfing machine called the Flowrider for youth and adults to practice and learn surfing skills. City of Mesa pools are also available for private rentals. In 2017, a total of 282 private party rentals served 30,127 individuals at City of Mesa Pools.
The Dobson Ranch Golf Course a unique and highly prized municipal golf venue provides public play, lessons and league competition to over 60,000 golfers each year.
5. Fosters Human Development & Cultural Unity
Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities offers 2,300 different activities and classes that help participants learn something new, explore their creative talents, or improve their abilities in a variety of activities. Mesa Parks and Recreation offers learning activities from "cradle to grave."
The Mesa Pre-K Ready program has evolved into a multi-department array of programs for youth under the age of 5. These programs have a focus on learning and developmental skills and parent support materials that help prepare this age group for success when entering kindergarten and beyond. The Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department along with the Mesa Art Center, idea Museum, Museum of Natural History, and Mesa Libraries all have programming targeting this initiative.
Youth an adult sports leagues, lessons and clinics offer specific sport skill development as well as social engagement and comradery. Safety and positive sportsmanship are strongly promoted in City of Mesa sports programs.
Special Interest classes offered at Community Recreation Centers offer instruction in dance, photography, cooking, fitness, wellness, nutrition, and a variety of visual and creative arts. Tenant partners East Valley Adult Resources and Oakwood Creative Care provides programs, services and daily meal programs specifically for the senior population.
The Adopt-A-Park program provides an opportunity for community engagement and public service. This program provides citizens, corporate groups, churches, scouts and other organizations to show pride in their community, contributing to the beauty, safety and functionality of park and recreation properties.
Social Engagement and cultural unity is very important to the Mesa community and is evident in the many special events and celebrations that take place throughout the Park, Recreation and Community Facilities Department locations. The Mesa Pow Wow, Veterans’ Day Parade, Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, Celebrate Mesa community events, Merry Main Street and Celebration of Freedom are key events sponsored by the City of Mesa that provide our community the opportunity to celebrate and foster positive community connections. In addition, other organizations host over 30 major public events at City locations that draw other 123,000 participants. Parks and Recreation festivals and events bring Mesa's culturally diverse community together for celebration and family fun.
Volunteering is popular with Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department. In 2017, volunteers provided 40,076 hours in support of parks, pools, recreation centers, programs and special events. Volunteers are essential to the success of youth camps, swim lessons, park clean-ups and special events. Team-building, community pride, community service, and job skill training are all important take-aways for volunteer groups.
6. Protects and Informs Citizens About Environmental Resources
Preservation of green space plays a vital role in protecting the environment. Green space improves air and water quality and provides habitat for wildlife. Mature park trees provide shade in the hot summer months, reducing the urban heat island as well as filter out pollutants before they reach local streams. Mesa is a registered Tree City with over 26,871 park trees.
Embracing our Arizona desert habitat, Mesa has 370 acres of park property that has been left in its natural desert state or undeveloped open space. In addition, the 131 park basin locations serve as storm water retention areas, helping mitigate flooding, run-off and erosion. A partnership with Arizona Game and Fish Department provides educational signs and materials at our three community fishing lakes along with regular fish stocking, and community fishing clinics.
The Family Nature Club program, a partnership with the Phoenix Zoo is bringing environmental education and nature play and learning to families through Mesa. This is a pilot program that we hope to grow into additional programming in the future.
The Mesa Urban Garden and Escobedo Community Gardens are both partnerships with local not-for-profit groups that help to promote community gardening, healthy eating, sustainability and education about our local environment.
7. Facilitates Community Problem Solving
A Parks and Recreation Department can help solve community problems! Here are a few examples of how Mesa Parks and Recreation is impacting our local community:
The Mesa Pre-K Ready program will help prepare Mesa youth who are under 5 years old, and their families for success when entering kindergarten. Early learning skill development has been found to contribute greatly to a child’s success in kindergarten and beyond. The Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department along with the Mesa Art Center, idea Museum, Museum of Natural History, and the Libraries have joined forces to offer programming targeting this initiative. The goal is to raise the number of youth entering kindergarten who are measured at being prepared or having basic early learning skills. This initiative will also impact educational success and workforce preparedness for Mesa into the future.
During the summer months many of Mesa’s youth don’t have enough to eat. Parks and Recreation summer camp and recreation center programs have ascribed to the NRPA Commit to Health program and partner with the Mesa Public Schools to serve as food distribution centers to help combat hunger in many areas of the city.
8. Provides Recreational Experiences
Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities is committed to providing leisure opportunities that are available to all residents, no matter their age, ability or income level. We provide and facilitate recreational services for all ages, income levels, ability and skill levels. With our pools, lakes, spray grounds, golf courses, recreation centers, parks, sport venues, nature areas and trails, our community enjoys a wide variety of recreation opportunities.
The award-winning Mesa Adaptive and Inclusion programs offered through the Department provide sport, recreation, and social programs for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities as well as inclusion assistance for participants needing an accommodation. The City partners with Arizona Disabled Sports and Arizona Special Olympics to expand program offerings to participants.