Crossroads at Silverbell Park, Marana's newest park, will be dedicated in a day-long celebration this Saturday, Feb. 27.
The park is located on 48 acres on the east side of Silverbell Road, south of Cortaro Road and adjacent to Pima County's Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr., Library.
Mayor Ed Honea, town manager Gilbert Davidson, parks and recreation director Tom Ellis and D.L. Withers president Dan Withers will give remarks at the official dedication at 10 a.m. Saturday. Town council members and town staffers also will be on hand.
In sum, the park and related infrastructure improvements cost approximately $6 million. Construction began when Granite Construction widened Silverbell Road to four lanes between Cortaro and Ina roads, and did rough grading, installation of parking lots, curbs and gutters for the park. D.L. Withers Construction Inc., then took over and put in all the park's amenities — restrooms, sidewalks, trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, ball fields and backstops, lighting, fencing and landscaping.
Crossroads at Silverbell Park has two soccer fields, two baseball/softball fields, an adult slow-pitch softball field, two basketball courts, a tennis court and two sand volleyball courts. All the ball fields are lit by state-of-the-art lighting that appears to glow, rather than being bright flashbulbs in the sky, according to Ellis.
"We wanted to take into consideration the neighborhoods to the west of the park and didn't want to ruin their views of the Santa Catalina Mountains," he said.
After the dedication and a 21-gun salute in honor of the late Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr., namesake of the Pima County library adjacent to the park, two Tohono O'odham, Miguel Flores and Felix Antone, will give the park a traditional Native American blessing.
Events planned for the day include an American Youth Soccer Association tournament running from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., an adult co-ed slow-pitch softball tournament from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a baseball tournament between Continental Ranch Little League and Marana Little League teams from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The park also has a festival and outdoor performance area, as well as a group use area, both situated close to the library. The outdoor performance area will be the stage for live music throughout the day, featuring local bands playing a variety of music.
The Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr., Library will host puppet shows, story times, teen gaming and a book sale, while Jazzercise and boot camp exercise demonstrations will be done in the outdoor performance area.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Southern Arizona Humane Society is hosting a pet adopt-a-thon in the dog park, and the Saguaro Scramblers Agility Club, a dog agility group, will give demonstrations at 11:30, 12:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Marana closes out the day of celebration at 6:30 p.m. with an outdoor showing of the film Field of Dreams at its Movie in the Park.
The park "reflects the community's rich cultural and archaeological history and offers the latest in recreational amenities," a town release said. The area occupied by the park, lying west of the Santa Cruz River, historically was a center of activity because of the water and good farmland there, parks director Ellis pointed out. Marana did extensive archeological excavations in the park area and along the rebuilt Silverbell Road, uncovering approximately two dozen adobe pit houses that were part of an 80-acre Hohokam Indian village that dates between 1100 and 1400.
Both Desert Archeology and Old Pueblo Archeology performed the archeological investigative work.
The southern-most area of the park, between two branches of the Yuma Wash, which drains from the Tucson Mountains into the Santa Cruz River, will remain native desert with some walking paths in it.
Ellis noted the town plans to work with non-profit groups to do interpretations of Hohokam pit houses and shade structures. The area also was the site of the Bojorquez-Aguirre Ranch in the 1830s. Remnants of the ranch house, cistern and other structures will be fenced and preserved, and have interpretations constructed.