Harry M. Dotson Park


Stanton, California


City of Stanton




1 Acre Park


CPRS – Award of Excellence

This neighborhood park in the City of Stanton opened at the end of 2008.  Named for the late Mayor, Harry M. Dotson, this park commemorates and celebrates his legacy and love for children.  At a construction cost of 1.9 million dollars, this 1-acre park is filled with amenities that attract between two hundred and four hundred residents every day!

The site chosen for the park once served as a childcare facility and lies directly across from a 28-acre low-income apartment complex. The site’s dead trees, trash piles, and old structures made it an eyesore for the surrounding community and a magnet for loitering and graffiti.  Completely transformed, the site houses a fun interactive park that provides the community with a safe and inviting spot to relax and have fun. The project was funded with CBDG funds, developer fees, and revenue from the City’s general fund and was designed with consideration to the environment through the construction of bio-swales and the use of drought tolerant plants.

The rolling grassy landscape at the park’s entry gates and children’s hand prints in the walkways welcome visitors into Dotson Park. Visitors encounter exciting discoveries throughout this unique public park. The park’s large western-themed gates welcome visitors with Mayor Dotson’s iconic quote: “It’s all about the kid’s”.

Unique Water Play

Once inside the park, one of the first features that visitors encounter is the exciting western-themed water re-circulating splash pad.  Extremely popular in the warm summer months, this splash pad includes interactive water elements where children can play under the protection of a large Indian Tee-pee themed fabric shade structure.  The shade structure extends beyond the splash pad and provides shade over an adjacent picnic area as well as a 2-5 age group play structure themed as a wooden fort.  This section of the park is connected to the main walkway and to the community plaza by three stone-clad bridges which cross a grass-filled bio-swale that runs through the center of the park.   These bio-swales collect and filter water in the park preventing urban runoff from entering the storm drain.  Water use in the park has been minimized through the use of drought tolerant plants and by reducing turf areas.

The community plaza features a log cabin themed restroom building as well as a 1000-square-foot log cabin themed community center and classroom.  Prior to construction, Community Services Department sponsored an event where local children could create tiles that represented their vision for the park.  These tiles were incorporated into seat walls that encircle two large mulberry trees that were preserved from the sites previous days as a childcare center.  This community plaza serves as a base for a variety of community programs such as afterschool recreation and homework assistance , summer programs, food distribution, school and day camp trips, and community resource events. All of these activities are designed with Stanton’s goal of fostering community pride and forward vision for the City.

“The pirate ship, with its thirty-five-foot tall sails, dominates the skyline of the park.”

The most prominent feature of the park is a massive two-story pirate ship which is fully ADA accessible by ramp. The pirate ship, with its thirty-five-foot tall sails, dominates the skyline of the park.  It is moored in a lagoon of blue rubber surfacing where children can discover other features including a large treasure chest, jewel crusted paving, climbing boulders, as well as imprinted animal tracks and dinosaur fossils. This whimsical area was designed to excite the imagination of community children and provide an opportunity to explore and interact with each other.  Other features of the park include a half basketball court, exercise equipment, and a decomposed granite walking path designed to encourage children to exercise and have fun.

The designers, City Council and City Staff worked together with various community organizations, to create a design that reflected the community’s ideas.  Great attention was given to implement their vision and desires and to create a park that would commemorate Harry M. Dotson’s love of children.   Because of their involvement in its creation, local children and their families truly feel invested in the park.  The inclusion of their creative ideas has created a design that reflects City values and has made this park an instant community-wide attraction.

This outstanding capital improvement project exemplifies Stanton’s commitment to the continuous improvement of its citizen’s quality of life.  The high quality of design has created a place full of meaning and pride while accommodating neighborhood outreach and education in a beautiful and intriguing environment. The park provides an inviting landscape where the community can gather to find fun, inspiration and well-being.  Harry M. Dotson Park in the City of Stanton truly is a unique, special place because “It’s all about the kids”.