Menifee city officials celebrate creation of new park

Change and development were the primary topics of conversation on Saturday, May 24, as officials from the city of Menifee celebrated the grand opening of a long-awaited Audie Murphy Ranch Sports Park.

The sports park was built in conjunction with nearby homes.

The developer of those homes, Brookfield Residential, acquired the land surrounding the park a number of years ago and has since turned it into a sprawling development, with numerous two-story homes complete with green grass lawns and carefully crafted landscaping.

Brookfield also built the park and implemented everything within it from its multiple playgrounds to its skate area and baseball field.

The area that comprises both the park and the housing development looks different than it once did. As the park’s namesake suggests, the area once had some affiliation with actor and Army veteran Audie Murphy, who raised Black Angus cows and race horses there.

Bob Hope took over Murphy’s property in 1971 after Murphy died in a plane crash and held it for 16 years before passing it off to a series of developers for it to become what it is today, according to City Council Member Tom Fuhrman.

The sense of progression at the celebration came as many city officials discussed how the facilitation of the park was just one of many projects taking Menifee into the future.

“This is exactly where Menifee is going to go,” said Rob Johnson, Menifee’s city manager. “If you look around (at the park) it’s green, it’s lush, it’s beautiful.”

Johnson said another indication of the city’s movement toward the future was its new housing and infrastructure.

Deputy Mayor Wallace Edgerton agreed with Johnson’s assessment of the area’s future, citing a number of different infrastructure undertakings like Menifee’s “Missing Link” project, which connected two different portions of road to create a thoroughfare in the portion of the city east of Interstate 215.

Edgerton also discussed improvements at the interchange between Scott Road and Interstate 215.

“We have done a lot of things beyond what you see today obviously as a city,” Edgerton said. “I was the original mayor for the city and it’s really exciting to see things like this unfold.”

The park’s opening day’s events gave visitors the opportunity to become more familiar with it. The baseball field held its inaugural game between two little league teams, and the skate park’s gates opened for the first time to a throng of at least three dozen adolescents.

The opening of the skate park was especially important for some of the more avid skaters, many of whom would have to travel far outside Menifee to places like Corona and Oceanside.

One of those individuals was 17-year-old Nathan Fowley.

Fowley said he was happy with the creation of a skate park close to where he lives and that he liked the amount of street skating equipment the park had to offer.

But not everyone was fully satisfied with the skate park and one of those individuals was 15-year-old Justin Verner. Verner sat outside the park’s gates with multiple friends hoping to speak with someone after discovering he couldn’t ride his bike inside the skate park, something he said was never made clear prior to the opening of the park.

“It’s been in construction for a long time and they’ve never said anything about it up until today,” Verner said. “I went on the website and it didn’t say anything.”

Verner said that if there are future parks built in conjunction with the development, he hopes they’ll be more bike-friendly.

It wasn’t clear what future parks would consist of, but Adrian Peters, vice president of forward planning for Brookfield, said the developer plans on building at least three more parks by the time they’re finished with all housing for the Audie Murphy Ranch area.

“We’re community builders,” Peters said. “We’re in this for the long-haul.”

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