George “Rocky” Graham Park Brings Families, Residents Together

DSC_0012“The last time I played at the park next door, I was 12 years old,” La Tanya Wiggins says with a smile. “My bedroom window now looks over where my family used to barbecue.”

“Eventually all that was left were metal poles sticking out of the ground in a dirt field. The area fell into disrepair,” she recalls.

Now 44, the lifelong Marin City resident and business owner has something new to smile about. The dirt field has been replaced by grass, plants, play equipment and a beautiful mural celebrating the storied past, present and future of Marin City.

Some Thought It Couldn’t Be Done

When the Marin City Community Services District board began exploring ways to revitalize the park, La Tanya, who sat on the board, stepped up to help and talked to her neighbors to generate community support for the project.

“We had some non-believers who thought change would be impossible,” La Tanya explains. Following decades of neglect, the park would take serious funding to restore.

After two years of community conversations and working to raise funds from the government, private individuals and partners, like the Trust for Public Land, the board gave the go-ahead: a new park would be built for the benefit of all families in Marin City. The park would be named after George “Rocky” Graham, a long-time Marin City community advocate who died prematurely.

A Place to Connect, Be Healthy

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In July 2015, George “Rocky” Graham Park opened for all community members to enjoy.

The park contributes to a healthier Marin City, where residents experience higher health and educational disparities and lower life expectancy than the County average.

The park is located near the Marin City Health and Wellness Center that issues prescriptions for residents to visit the park and take advantage of the fitness equipment. These prescriptions help residents prioritize exercise and active living as part of the innovative Healthy Parks Healthy People Program that the MCCSD worked alongside many community partners to implement.

The park is also connected to the national park system through two trailheads.

“I have kids of my own, and I started to believe they’d have to leave Marin City in order to spend quality time outdoors,” La Tanya said. “Now, they don’t have to. It’s places like this that help everybody in Marin be happy and healthy.”