Upon donating money in 1912 for playground equipment, William J. Dickey said to build a playground, “ . . . of such a character and kind that will be most beneficial and enjoyable for the children.“ Just over 100 years later, Dickey Playground is now not only renovated, but is also providing a beneficial and enjoyable common ground for the community of the Historic Lowell Neighborhood.
Over the past two years Dickey Playground has made a transformation much like the community around it. What was once an unsafe area prone to less than ideal activity is now a gathering space for children and families alike; a place of volleyball games, summer splash park fun, and BBQ’s into the evening. Community Leader Phil Skei describes the change as also changing the culture and the feel of the neighborhood, “This now is a place that children feel safe to play and families feel safe to gather.”
Dickey Playground’s renewal has not been without effort from the Lowell Community as well as partnerships with the City of Fresno and neighboring San Joaquin Valley communities. On Ramps Covenant Church first began meeting at Dickey Playground once a month during which they would help pick up trash, remove graffiti, and clean the bathrooms. With the help of a sister church in Kingsburg, they were able to do minor projects around the park, including building new volleyball courts. This began a relationship with the City of Fresno. Most recently this partnership has renovated the softball diamond, demolished the unsafe barracks, and has provided Dickey Playground with new benches, trees, BBQ pits, and fresh grass in needed areas.
With the bathrooms scheduled to be rebuilt starting in January of 2014, Dickey Playground has most recently received the addition of a new bench area that bares its name and proudly displays the words “Play” and “Imagine” in both English and Spanish giving the Lowell Neighborhood a visible example of the growth and renewal that their dedication has provided.