By Becky Maxedon
A few years after the London Bridge was comfortably ensconced over the Bridgewater Channel in Lake Havasu City, an open space south of the community began to develop.
The history of SARA Park is more than history, it’s a tale of how things were in the not-too-distant past.
Longtime resident Jim Rosensweet knows the story of SARA Park and he recently shared it with RiverScene Magazine.
While people walk, drive, recreate, hike, play ball and so much more in SARA, most have no idea what the history of the park is and take it for granted.
SARA (Special Activities and Recreational Area) Park covers 1,100 acres of land upon which there are ball diamonds, rodeo grounds, a motor racing track and so many hiking opportunities and more for all to enjoy.
According to Rosensweet, a local group had formed in the early 1970s to work to turn the area into a park.
“On July 19, 1974, the Bureau of Land Management signed the lease and we were off.
“It was a recession. The county was bankrupt and we didn’t know where we would get the money to develop a park,” Rosensweet said.
The county went after and was awarded a grant that comprised $300,000 in actual money and $300,000 in matching, or in-kind work, according to Rosensweet.
The park was a make-work project that employed about 26 men for about a year, he said.
There is a pair of pillars made of stone that stand near the entrance that rise mysteriously. What is their story?
“I went out there one day and I guess they figured they needed a proper entry. I talked to the supervisor, who was a former contractor, about what they were doing (building the pillars). The rest of the guys were off the street and had little or no experience. They had no idea what they were doing,” Rosensweet said.
“I am surprised they are still there.”
He said someone said there might have been a sign there at one time, but he’s not sure.
Those involved with the development of the park were getting frustrated early on because the lease had not been signed by the government.
“We had contacted everyone – at the state and the federal level. We contacted Barry Goldwater who was our senator at the time,” he said.
“Finally, a Goldwater Aide went to the BLM and told them to go ahead and sign the lease.”
Rosensweet said he doubted the park could be built today with all the regulations and hoops one has to jump through to develop land.
When development began, there was the question of where water would come from.
“We went to the Lake Havasu Irrigation District and asked them where we could get water. They suggested the fire hydrant located nearby.
It was across the highway, so we had to figure out how to get it to the park.”
Rosensweet said that after much discussion and contact with local and not so local officials, it was determined that they couldn’t cut across the highway to pipe the water.
“The local BLM representative came out and looked at it and suggested that some guys come out some evening and dig a trench and pipe the water over to the park. And that’s what we did.”
At the time the park was completed in the mid-1970s, it was a one-of-a-kind open space.
SARA Park is a Havasu treasure, now owned and maintained by the city, where there are hiking trails, ball diamonds, a motor racing track, rodeo grounds, shooting range and so much more. It is located south of Lake Havasu City on State Route 95.
Get out there and enjoy it and wonder at the stone pillars that are still standing.
Here are just a few of the many things you can currently enjoy at SARA Park.