Fence removed at Willis Winters Park. Photo by Renee Umsted.

Over 300 feet of chain-link fence was removed at Willis C. Winters Park this week.

The fence divided the baseball field and batting cages from an open green space, the playground and the pavilion. Another shorter segment of the fence connected the tennis court to the batting cages.

“I know it might seem kind of minor, but it’s so huge to us,” said Barbara Cohen, the president of Friends of Willis Winters Park.

The red line marks the fence that was removed at Willis Winters Park.

Along with a locked gate, the fence used to prevent people from crossing the middle of the park. The locks were removed a while ago, but by ripping out the fence, the park has become much more accessible.

“Our No. 1 concern was accessibility and keeping it safe,” Cohen said.

This isn’t the first fence that has been removed at the park. There used to be another one separating the park from the Santa Fe Trail by the soccer field and softball field.

The fence was an obstacle and a bit of an eyesore. It was in disrepair, with rips in the chain link mended with hog rings, and it also had a security feature that deterred people from climbing over.

According to Cohen, no one really knows why the fences had been up for so long.

“When we add up all the fence that we’ve removed, plus the 80 feet over there and opened up the gates here, you’re talking about a total game changer to a park,” said District 14 Park board representative Rudy Karimi. “You’re bringing life back into a park.”

“For everyone,” Cohen added.

Many other improvements have been made to the park. A pollinator garden was created, labels were added to plants, and new mulch was added to the playground and pavilion. They also added lights to illuminate walkways.

Their next project will be to resurface the soccer field and allow more community access to it. Funds have already been raised.

They also want to redo the baseball batting cages and add a fitness trail. But they are being careful not to develop too much; they know that neighbors appreciate the quietness of the park.

The Friends of Willis Winters Park became official in a few years ago. It hosts volunteer days the last Sunday of every month, where community members can come to help pick up litter, work in the garden and other activities.

Located at 101 N. Glasgow Drive, Willis C. Winters Park encompasses over 16 acres. It was established in 1922 as Randall Park, and it was renamed after the Park and Recreation director who retired in 2019 after six years holding the position.

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