RAYMONDVILLE — This small town pulled together to turn two old baseball fields into a $1 million sports complex.
After eight months of construction, city leaders yesterday opened Veterans Park at the site of the former North Ward elementary school on the town’s northern edge.
“This is a dream come true for us,” City Manager Eleazar Garcia told a small crowd near the park’s entrance. “It is a community park.”
Designed by Guzman & Muñoz Engineering, the sports complex features two lighted playing fields, bleachers, a 6,000-square-foot pavilion, an 8,000-square-foot skate park, a half-mile walking trail with exercise stations and a concession stand.
Mayor Gilbert Gonzales recalled his days at the old school razed years ago in the neighborhood of old wood frame homes near the corner of First Street and Durango Avenue.
“This neighborhood has never had something like this,” Gonzales said. “Just looking around makes me feel as proud as proud can be.”
Former Raymondville High School Head Football Alex Leal chuckled as he recalled teaching at the school where he spanked Gonzales.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” Leal said. “It is totally awesome to come here and see what I’ve seen today. I hope you take real good care of it because this is something to be very proud of.”
Under a faint drizzle, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said the park stood as a tribute to servicemen and women.
“The very name of it is special,” Lucio said. “All of us respect and admire men and women in uniform. I couldn’t help but feel the drops are tears of joy from those who could not be here with us today. There is a lot to be thankful for and Willacy County has always been a jewel for me.”
Gonzales called the sports complex home to “the biggest skate park south of San Antonio.”
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