New Regional Park in Firebaugh

August 22, 2008 9:32:52 PM PDT
A new regional park has opened in Firebaugh that promises to lure in skateboarders as well as water enthusiasts. Despite tough economic times in the city the park was created to commemorate a local fallen hero.The migrant farm working city of Firebaugh has struggled this spring and summer through a drought, sky rocketing unemployment and families leaving town. But don't think this city's down and out.

Maldonado Park has been in the works for the last 7 years. City manager Jose Ramirez said building this park was possible with assistance from several local and state grants.

"We are fighters, we're people of endurance, we're gonna continue to move on and find ways to diversify ourselves out here," said Ramirez.

The park features water sprayers for the kids and a skate course. But perhaps the park's most important feature is its name. Maldonado. At 5 a-m on August 19, 1975 23-year old Sixto Maldonado, Jr. was shot while working the front desk at the Firebaugh police station. The man who killed him then turned the gun on himself.

"Definitely. It was one of the hardest days of my life," said Fernando Maldonado.

Maldonado said his older brother would have appreciated support from the community naming the park after him.

"He wasn't someone that took things lightly but my brother would really enjoy it. I mean I know he's up there saying, 'Well I didn't expect this.' But then again I know he would say it's for the citizens of Firebaugh," said Maldonado.

"This is an awesome place to come. It's age appropriate. There's something for everybody," said Firebaugh's Ester Orellana.

Orellana said she's having more fun than her kids! Orellana was just a girl when Maldonado was shot.

"I remember that happening. It was really sad. And I just thank god that there's something beautiful to bring in the memory of him," said Orellana.

And there's future plans to expand Maldonado park. Designers want to build a synthetic turf soccer field for future league play and a walking trail.

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