City park spotlight: Hillside Park

Hillside Park is one of the oldest city parks of Tyler. It sits nestled among lush trees in a neighborhood that’s as old as the park, on the east side of the city less than two miles from downtown. 

Bisected by East Erwin street, the north half of the park features a soccer field and basketball courts while the south half features playground equipment, tables, and  green space. 

The park, established in 1934, has served the surrounding community for generations. 

“My dad used to play soccer over there where the soccer field is,” Rosa Atkins said. “They do semi-pro leagues and stuff like that and they play over there on the weekends.”

The park recently received a fresh look as part of a city campaign to renovate a number of its older parks. The south part of Hillside received new playground equipment, a concrete slide, and new tables and benches. There also is a new art wall featuring work from local artists, sponsored by the city along with some local businesses and the organization Keep Tyler Beautiful.

“It used to be a sad looking park. The murals look really cool,” Rosa Atkins said.

The $350,000 renovation plan began in 2018 and took a year to complete. The park had been showing its age with old playground equipment and unendorsed artwork. 

Isa Ali lives in the Hillside neighborhood and frequents the park with his daughter. “There was graffiti everywhere,” Ali, said. “With the renovations it looks a whole lot better. I’ve seen kids out here more than when it was run down. ” 

“I think it looks way better,” Atkins said, “It used to be a sad looking park. The murals look really cool.”

The northern half, however, still needs work. The fence is dented and the roof over the basketball court is pierced with holes.

While city officials plan additional renovations under the city’s half-cent sales tax program, other projects have taken precedence for funding. Lindsey, Noble E. Young and City parks are at the top of the city’s earliest renovation lists this year.

Siblings Grace and Joseph take a spin on Hillside Park’s renovated playground equipment.

Still, Hillside Park is a frequent destination for many. The soccer field sees regular use and the pavilions continue to shelter park attendees from the sun.

Despite its spots of rust and age, the park still holds a vital role in the community. Children from the nearby neighborhoods play together on the playground in the afternoon while parents sit together at the tables and benches.

It is a fantastic place to relax in the afternoon. The park’s rich history and the renovations enable the park to continue being a part of children’s and adults’ lives.

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