The City of Tucumcari, a VIVA Connects Action Community, hosted a design workshop last night for residents to share their future visions for Five Mile Park. About 50 people participated in the workshop, imagining a space that could accommodate walking, bicycling, horseback riding, shooting sports, family events, stargazing, birding, disc golf, and a long list of other desired uses. The workshop was part of a collaboration between local leaders and the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program to breathe new life into the park.

Facilitators spent time walking through the park before the workshop. Here, they look across the remnants of a Civilian Conservation Corps-built swimming pool. The pool was once the largest in the state, but it’s been empty for more than 40 years.

Five Mile Park is so named because it’s five miles from downtown. It was once a thriving attraction along Route 66, with the largest swimming pool in the state, a playground, skeet and trap shooting ranges, and a Civilian Conservation Corps-built bathhouse that was on the National Register of Historic Places. The pool closed in 1977 and a fire eviscerated the bathhouse in 2010. Renewed interest in the park began a few years ago, when a group devised the idea to use the space for an eighteen-hole disc golf course. Disc golf was new to many residents at the time, but now a local club holds monthly events. The course is also a destination for regional tournaments that draw visitors to Tucumcari. The tournaments are a boon for the local economy, filling many of the city’s classic Route 66 hotels.

The size and topography of the park lends itself to varied uses. Mesquite and cottownwood trees line small canyons that bisect the rolling plains. The eastern side of the park is designated for shooting practice. Local law enforcement and others train here, safely removed from other users. Most of the rest of the park is in a relatively natural state except for the disc golf course and a network of informal trails. Remnants of the pool and a few buildings serve as reminders of the park’s history. The city will remove these as part of the redevelopment process.

Landscape architects worked with local residents to sketch their ideas for improvements they’d like to see to Five Mile Park.

Four stations at the design workshop focused on different aspects of the park: a play area for children, a family gathering area, a shooting sports area, and ways to provide non-motorized connections between the park and the city. Landscape architects staffed each of the four stations and worked with residents to develop and sketch their ideas. These ideas included:
• A multi-use trail along the canal connecting the park with Mesalands Community College and Tucumcari High School
• Bouldering area
• Gazebo, available to rent for weddings and other events
• Outdoor classroom and discovery space for young children
• A dinosaur trail featuring sculptures created by Mesalands students
• Adobe shade structures that mimic the style of the original CCC buildings
• An observation deck for night sky viewing

The National Park Service will draft a concept plan that encapsulates the community’s ideas and present it on-site at the Five Mile Park near the end of the year.