It's a park now, the children could attest, climbing up the slide, swarming the monkey bars, busy as ants.
Westfield Park opened Tuesday on the grounds of Westfield Village Elementary School at Poplar Avenue and Michigan Boulevard a public park in a neighborhood where safe, open space had been hard to come by.
The opening came a year and a half after parents gathered at the school's play field on a rainy spring Wednesday to plot a secure place for their children to play.
"We needed a park for the little kids, a place where they could feel comfortable and safe," neighborhood parent Lourdes Maya said in Spanish through an interpreter. "We're content that there's a place where they can be safe."
Parents and other residents in the working-class, largely Latino, Westfield neighborhood had worked for more than four years to carve out a public park, pressing their case at community klatches and City Council meetings.
Transients previously made camp near the school's grounds, and the fence along the property was in disrepair.
"You had gang-bangers you don't see those people around anymore. It's safer for kids to come out to the park," said Marco Guerra, 20, who has lived in the neighborhood since he was 11 years old.
West Sacramento City Councilman Oscar Villegas represents the neighborhood and recalled those early meetings. He said that the park "was a bit off the radar" for the city until the parents stepped in.
"They said, 'What do we need to do to create a safe place for our kids, so we can walk to the park and exercise?' " Villegas said at a small ceremony Tuesday officially opening the park. "This was a grass-roots effort by a handful of women who wanted improvements to their park."
Help arrived in 2012. West Sacramento, Washington Unified School District, Yolo Children's Alliance and neighborhood groups banded together to build the park, helped by about $150,000 in seed money from Kaiser Permanente.
Today, there's play equipment and fresh landscaping. Soon, benches will dot the park and a walking trail will connect the park to the school, nearby streets and the neighborhood.
Washington Unified owns the land, but West Sacramento crews will maintain the park. The large grass section, big enough to hold two soccer fields, will be fenced off during school hours but open once class lets out.
"When you create this kind of space, people start coming out and they feel safe because it's set up for families," said Robert Azevedo, physician-in-chief of Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center. "A place like this creates a bond."
Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.