Monday, April 7, 2014

Northeast St. Pete Parks: A Hidden Gem

On the Eastside of town, East of Fourth street down 62nd avenue north there are two parks seemingly on opposites of the road, both of which have a unique role for the neighborhood. However, the Northeast Park really could either be enveloped by Mangrove Gulf Club or could be considered the second campus to Puyear Park. At this point in my park travel I create additional unnecessary narratives to make sense of some of the choices that are made about the proximity of certain parks or the distribution of resources the city may have. Northeast Park is basically a baseball complex with a playground to entertain younger kids, while Puyear Park has a lot more going on, but primary it's the soccer center for this part of town. The Raiders Soccer Club meet on these fields and there were at least 4-5 games going on at one time while were there plus various other practices. Thus the age old debate of baseball versus soccer, I know where I stand, do you?
Kidding of course, we intended to go to Northeast Park because we had never been there, but when we arrive the parking lot was being repaved and the baseball families' cars were lined up and down the street. What appeared as an already small parking lot was empty with new tar and the small street was filled. My guess is that is always filled but on this night it just happen to be worse. There is a small playground that we didn't play on because it was too much to navigate and not to diminish it's quite possibility delightful play opportunity, we didn't stop to play. It appeared to be a very standard small playground that is fenced in which does help if a parent's attention is else where like a baseball game.

Puyear Park was filled with the community participating in many activities, soccer being only one of them. There are great tennis courts there which are always full and commonly the host of tennis lessons, even I took lessons there as an adult about 4 years ago. There were a couple of men playing racquetball and Puyear even has a Jai-lai cancha which I haven't seen since I was very young and my cousin was a pro player in the Tampa league. In addition to odd walking trails and picnic shelters there was a playground.

There are lots of open fields, a concession stand and parking placed in multiple areas of the park to access the thing you'd like to do without having to cross the whole park to get there. I mentioned there was a playground. The playground is fenced in which is always a thumbs up, but it's built on sand. Now we had a bit of a debate about this par. Eliot loved it, mostly because the girls really enjoyed playing on it. It was a 5-12 year old recommended play space but there was enough for Vivi as a 20 month old to access herself. But for me the sand is a real downer. Sand gets everywhere. Always. As soon as you take off a shoe or pick up a kid and up them in the car seat you see that playground pour out of them. The other anti-sand thing is there is always a kid that decides to pick up the sand and throw it. Always. This happened on this day. His parent was watching soccer and his older brother which may have been 5 to his 3 was calling the shots. Putting the ubiquitous sand issue to the side, I felt that the playground was a little faded and not so awesome.

What I will say for Puyear Park it has something for everyone in the family. I imagine bringing the girls to soccer practice and playing a little tennis with Eliot a couple years from now. You can sit and have picnic lunch while the kids are on the playground safely tucked in by the fence surroundings. It's a lovely park for sure. Puyear is the hidden gem.

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