Over this past summer, NearSpace Launch — with the aid of other organizations — tore down factory buildings off of Main St. to develop the land into a public park.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, NearSpace Park officially announced its opening to the Upland community with a red ribbon ceremony. Several of Upland’s key officials, donors and locals came in support of the new park.
“Being around here for 71 years, this is amazing — I mean I remember this and it was just awful,” Director of RedBarn Troy Shockey said. “The buildings looked pathetic, so I'm so glad they used it for something good — this is amazing. With this beautiful outdoor place, kids and family can come and enjoy.”
At the ceremony, Park President Alex Reno said the park was worth the financial investment. The goal was to bring more life to downtown Upland — to be able to relax, have lunch and get together with people. He explained that there had been dilapidated buildings but now the community has something better.
The park had come a long way from when it was an empty, unused lot for about 15 years plus, Matthew Voss, Nearspace Launch chief operation officer, said.
After the spring 2023 spring semester, NearSpace Launch broke ground for the park. The construction took a total of three months.
One of the things NearSpace Launch wants to add to their park is a rocket garden. NearSpace staff are excited to see what could possibly be added to the park in the future as they receive more funding, Voss said.
The park’s creek is one of the main attractions. Until now, there hasn’t been a public place in Upland for children to play in water. Voss said that he sometimes looks out and sees 10-15 kids playing in their “splash creek.” The creek was inspired by a similar one constructed in the Fort Wayne area.
“This is just us doing a soft opening to it all,” Voss said. “And then we'll let the public do some more events to kind of use it for fun activities.”
During Labor Day, bounce houses were set up at the park for the Upland community to celebrate. Voss hopes that the park will also be used by students after they install Wi-Fi.
Voss said that he and his team were very thankful for all of their partners and donors who made the park possible.
“As a local resident, I love how NearSpace Launch is actively trying to make Upland a better place for everyone,” Junior Jack Fauser said. “They work hard at helping people get technology into space and serving the community around them.”