Family fun is about to return to a long-idle part of a northwest side park where a mysterious gray brick tower stands, topped by what looks like a faded red boxcar or two.
Pima County is working with Kirk and Julie Vaughn to reopen the BMX track, go-cart track, miniature golf course, and concessions at Mike Jacob Sports Park, west of Interstate 10 and south of Ina Road, in January 2013.
The Vaughns hope the rejuvenated park will provide plenty of recreational opportunities for young people where few exist now. They’re aiming for a “soft” opening the second week of January and a grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 19.
“We’re going to bring it back to life,” Julie Vaughn said this week. “We’ve got the go carts purchased. We’ve got the miniature golf purchased.”
And they’ve got 18,000 yards of dirt – more than 21,000 tons, courtesy of the Pima County Ina Road Wastewater Reclamation Facility – to be graded into 1,200 feet of BMX track.
“It’s beautiful dirt,” Julie said, not as rocky as the dirt at the Manzanita BMX Raceway, in a County park southwest of Irvington and Mission roads, which the Vaughns have managed since 2000. They will close the Manzanita track in January before they open the Northwest Side one.
Paying homage to the recreation area’s former name – Funspot, Kirk Vaughn said, “We’re going to call it the Xtreme Funspot.”
What you won’t find at Xtreme Funspot:
- The three enclosed water slides that descended from the red top of the gray brick tower into a small but deep pool. The slides were sold to Breakers Water Park when Funspot closed in 1996 and the pool has since been filled with dirt.
- Batting cages. The Vaughns plan to fill that area in and convert it to a remote-control car track.
- Alcohol. Although old-timers might fondly recall buying plastic half-gallon milk jugs full of beer for $5 at Funspot (the Vaughns found thousands of the bottles inside the concessions building), Kirk and Julie are more interested in hosting teen nights and children’s birthday parties. “We’re catering to the kids,” Julie said.
The American Bicycle Association is providing the insurance for the BMX operation.
The County plans to connect Xtreme Funspot to The Loop, the system of bike and pedestrian paths being developed around metropolitan Tucson, so BMX cyclists will be able to get to it from other parts of town and travel between it and the Kory Laos BMX Park at the County’s Flowing Wells District Park.
Xtreme Funspot and the athletic fields at Mike Jacob Sports Park, operated by Championship Sports since 2010, will be at the northern end of the County’s Corazón de los Tres Ríos del Norte sports, recreation, flood control and economic development project that County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry unveiled as a concept in 2010.
Did you know that Mike Jacob Sports Park is named for the late founder of the Adopt a Park/Public Area litter abatement program in Tucson who also helped create Tucson Clean & Beautiful? Mike Jacob served as president of the Tucson Clean & Beautiful board of directors from 1987 to 1993 and as a board member until he retired in 2001. As executive director of corporate affairs for Golden Eagle Distributors, he designed programs in high schools to address underage drinking and worked with the DUI Task Force to sponsor the Do the Ride Thing program to keep impaired drivers off the road. Jacob was the driving force behind many of Golden Eagle’s philanthropic efforts to assist in children’s welfare, education, the arts, and environmental awareness. He was an avid supporter of the University of Arizona Athletic Department and a member of the Tucson High Badger Foundation and USS Tucson Committee. The park was named for him after he died in 2009.
For more information about Pima County parks and recreational opportunities, please visit http://www.pima.gov/nrpr/index.htm or call the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department at (520) 877-6000.
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