Parks and Leisure
Parks & Leisure
Parks Make Life Better!
It was just last November that it officially opened to the community, but the vision for Fallen Heroes Park started well before that. This charming park is nestled in the neighborhood just southwest of the Plano Street Bridge on Chase Avenue and the location was carefully selected. It was an area that lacked community facilities because it had mostly been developed before it was incorporated into the City. With the help of funds from the Statewide Park Program, the project took off in 2009. Several community meetings were held in the area of the site in order to get input from those that would be enjoying the park. We took the ideas generated from those meetings and incorporated them into the unique design. Features of the park include a walking trail that joins the Tule River Parkway, two play areas to entertain different age groups, a splash pad, a half basketball court, two covered pavilions and a sports field. During the final phase of construction, we turned to the community for help with the name. The ‘Name the Park!’ contest let citizens give us their ideas and we received over 50 submissions. The Parks and Leisure Commission had the tough job of narrowing down the submissions and then the City Council made the final selection. The name of the park brought about new developments including a memorial wall with plaques of local fallen heroes and future plans for installation of a flagpole. The construction of the park may be complete, but it continues to grow and develop as the community embraces it.
Neighborhood parks, sometimes called ‘pocket parks’, are typically on smaller plots of land that are sometimes an irregular size or vacant building lots. Establishing parks at these sites provides greenery for the surrounding neighborhoods and offers a well maintained place to hang out and play outdoors. Lions Mini Park is between E & F Street on Orange Avenue. The Porterville Breakfast Lions Club constructed the park back in 1973 making use of and beautifying a small vacant City lot. It has creative children's play equipment and a picnic table. Lime Street Park is located on the corner of Lime Street and Olivewood and offers the children in that neighborhood a safe place to play other than the street. This drainage basin was given dual purpose with the addition of benches, landscaping and drinking fountains. Lastly, a lot of people drive by this park each day and probably don’t even realize it. North Park is located at the corner of Main Street and Henderson Avenue. It is home to a very famous farmer in our town. The park was already in existence back in 1977 when “The Farmer” statue was unveiled. The statue continues to serve as a very iconic image for our community and I can’t think of a better backdrop for it than one of our parks- Parks Make Life Better! ®
Fondly referred to as ‘downtown’s park’, this quaint neighborhood site is just acrossfrom our home base at City Hall on Main Street. It was dedicated back in 2005 and the local Rotary Clubs and a few other sponsors quickly worked to add the gazebo and stage in honor of Homer Wood. In 2008 an 18-foot-tall four-dial Howard post clock wasplaced in the park on the corner of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue. The clock was a vision of the late Frank ‘Buck’ Shaffer, Porterville’s musical icon and former band director of Porterville High School. The project was carried out as an endeavor by a committee in his honor. Another remarkable feature of the park is the grand ‘Marching Through Time’ mural. The Porterville Mural Committee, in association with the Time Marches On Committee, developed the mural which depicts a chronology of the rich history of bands in our community beginning in 1902, which coincidentally is also the year that the City was incorporated. The free standing mural, composed of 20 panels, each one measuring 5 feet by 10 feet, was painted by Glen Hill of Three Rivers. The back of the mural depicts a snow capped Sierra Nevada, the foothills and musical notes, bearing the name and years of supporting former and current bandmembers, floating to the sky. The Committee also was instrumental in the benches surrounding the park and in front of City Hall. Centennial Park is the perfect location for the mural and clock as it is in the heart of downtown where local bands have marched down Main Street for years delighting parade crowds and creating memories. Stop by the park and enjoy the special landmarks and the history of our community.
At almost any time of the day, you can catch someone walking, jogging or biking around Veterans Park. It has been become the hub for those looking to get a little sunshine with their exercise as they travel the two miles that encompasses the park and neighboring restaurants and retail stores. The park’s 26 acres also boasts a 1.66 mile walking trail that meanders through the various terrains. The three covered pavilions are constantly reserved for with a children’s party, family reunion or special event come springtime- including our upcoming Spring Kids Fest. The shelter nearest Henderson Avenue is named for the Porterville Breakfast Lions in appreciation of their efforts to help rebuild it several years back. The shelter on the side of Newcomb Street was sponsored by VFW Post 2001 and constructed by Boy Scout Troop 134 as a part of an Eagle Scout Project spearheaded by Venture Scout Jacob Gwilliam. A shade structure was recently installed to cover the children's playground and provide some much needed relief from the hot summer sun. After much debate, Veterans Park beat out Zalud Park and another downtown location to become the home of our skate park. The unique 15,000 square foot concrete skate park remains a popular attraction for bike, skate and scooter enthusiasts who enjoy the flow course with a half pipe, stairs, ledges and hand rails. An important landmark of our City is the remarkable Porterville Area Vietnam War Memorial which is located inside the park. The design features a granite panel mounted on a cement pedestal that sits in front of a UH1 "Huey" helicopter. The memorial contains a brief dedication and lists the names of 40 Porterville area men who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. The park also plays host to our Parks and Leisure electronic message board where you can get up to date tidbits about our current programs and events. We hope you join us at Kids Fest so you can enjoy the Park of the Month!
In 1908, the City’s newly established Chamber of Commerce secured deeds of three parcels of land which marked the beginning of Porterville’s first City Park. The land included the 2-acre site of the old brewery donated by Henry Hunsaker; a 9- acre plot was deeded by George Murry who was a local lawyer and son of early settler Pat Murry; and 19 acres from the Pioneer Land Company which was home to Porterville’s early flour mill. W.P Bartlett became a major proponent of the park project and was intimately involved with the planning and fundraising for development. It was with this project and his ambition that a Committee on Parks was officially formed and would later develop into our current Parks Commission.
Originally named Burbank Park after famed botanist Luther Burbank, the 20 acres of rolling hills became a recreational source of pride for the Porterville community and greater Tulare County. It is uncertain exactly why the name of the park was changed to memorialize George Murry after his passing, but is has been suggested that his lovable personality and the fact that he had been the City Attorney was of influence.
In addition to the name change, the park has undergone considerable transformation over the more than 100 years of existence. Early features including several statues, a bandstand, tea house, caged animals and flour mill no longer remain. They have been replaced by more modern elements such as the three covered pavilions, two children’s play areas and the municipal swimming pool, which was constructed in 1954. A segment of the Pioneer Ditch still passes through the park and is embellished with a stone waterfall and rock bridge.
Just east of Murry Park is the Porterville Golf Course which was purchased in 1944. The swimming complex was erected in 1954. Before the advent of motels the park additionally served as an overnight resting spot for travelers- a free camping ground.
The centerpiece of Murry Park remains the unique pond surrounding an island which attracts not only visitors but the ever-popular wild ducks and geese. There was once a bridge that connected to the island but was removed for safety reasons. The pond has been restocked with fish each year since the 1940’s and the tradition continues this year just in time for our Spring Fishing Derby which will be held on March 7. Join us for that event and enjoy the marvelous efforts that have gone in to developing and maintaining the City’s first park.
John and Mary Zalud moved their family to Porterville around 1891 and became revered as pioneers of the community. With a thriving saloon business, and a rumored interest in gambling, the family acquired wealth in the form of land. Pearle Zalud, the last surviving child of the couple, owned and occupied the family’s estate. After her passing in 1970, the City of Porterville acquired nearly 15 acres of land north of West Grand and west of the Southern Pacific Railroad to be used for a children’s park and rose garden. Pearle also requested that the land be dedicated in honor of her beloved brotherEdward George Zalud. In addition to the property, Pearle left the family’s homeand all its belongings to the City and it later became the Zalud House Museum.
The City moved forward with development of the property and dedicated Zalud Park in 1978. At the time of its original construction, a splendid and tranquil rose garden was incorporated. The heirs of J. Claude Nelson were the benefactors that made the tribute to the late Mr. Nelson possible in the form of the rose garden with its various components. The plaque remains memorializing Erma Nelson’s love for her late husband in donating the rose plants.
Zalud Park boasts two softball diamonds, lighted basketball courts, a walking trail, a covered pavilion and a children’s ADA accessible playground. It is also the only park to offer two lighted tennis courts. The sprawling grassy setting has become home to several community events including Butterfield Stage Days, movies in the park and Summer Night Lights. In its near future, Zalud Park will be site of the first disc golf course in our area.