(Photos courtesy of Sara J. González Memorial Park)

A park on Atlanta’s Westside will use a $50,000 grant from Park Pride to revamp its children’s soccer field.

Sara J. González Memorial Park, the first park in Georgia to be named for a Latino person, plans to use the money to rehabilitate its well-loved soccer field, adding AstroTurf for year-round play.

Atlanta-based Integrated Land Design will lead the project.

The money was part of Park Pride’s recent $2.3 million grant cycle, the largest in its history, which was announced in February.

“My mother would be thrilled with this Park Pride-funded development at the park, which will see long-term playability for the neighbors, children and families that use the field,” said Isabel González Whitaker, founder of Sara J. González Memorial Park.

Whitaker led the charge for the park’s renaming back in 2009 as tribute to her late mother, a businesswoman and leader in the community. It’s located at 2411 Coronet Way, on the western edge of Buckhead.

Sara González had served as director of Hispanic community relations during the 1996 Olympic Games, according to the park’s website. Later, she became president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where she grew membership, engaged corporate entities, and raised the profile of Hispanic politicians. Some of her other achievements included founding the Hispanic Business and Career Expo, as well as the Hispanic American Center for Economic Development.

“My mother’s values and work were rooted in inclusion, diversity, equity and dignity,” Whitaker said. “This children’s soccer field — which adults can use also as a mini-pitch — sees those values embodied.”

She added that soccer is a touchpoint for Latino and immigrant communities that “clearly speaks to our heritage, a shared love of sport, and acknowledges the pan-generational impact of recreation especially as a driver of positive health outcomes.”

In an announcement, Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki said the organization is proud to help improve the park and “celebrate its role as a beacon of support for Atlanta’s growing Latino population.”

The revitalized soccer field is expected to be ready in spring.

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.