ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Right across the street from Arthur Sears Park, you can find Bill Enriquez, known as a neighborhood historian for many local residents. He carries around a special book in his hand like it is his most prized possession.
“I know all the history, I was here when they built it,” said Enriquez while holding the book created hand in hand with neighbors and the Abilene Parks and Recreation Department. “This is probably the only copy and I hold it real close.”
The ‘Sears neighborhood plan’ was officially created in 2001 to highlight improvements residents wanted to see done in the park. Decades later, all the renovations are complete
“A lot of work went into this and the awesome thing is these are individuals that live in this neighborhood. These are not people that came from the outside to tell us how to put it together,” said Enriquez.
Living in Abilene practically his whole life, Enriquez remembers when Sears Park was just a large field with little to no amenities. Now, more than two decades later, he said he is proud to see the work the community spent time planning and creating come to life.
“I’ve seen it grow from the additions to the park, you know like the new playgrounds, like the restroom facilities, like the gazebos, like the basketball courts outside the bridge, to bridge us together,” Enriquez recalled.
This park bridges together may families, like Julia Rodela Ortiz’s large family of 19 grand kids and over 40 great-grand kids. Living across the street from Sears Park for 60 years. “When my grand kids come, there’s a lot of people, sometimes we don’t find a parking space,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz can be found often found sitting outside on her porch watching residents gather and build relationships in the park and recreation center.
“I’m so happy that I’m still here to see the changes of Abilene and especially the community of Latinos. I always prayed one of these days before I pass I was going to see it, and I have, I’m seeing it slowly,” Ortiz expressed.
Enriquez said now it is time to plan for what renovations will come next for Arthur Sears Park and the community.