SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The National Parks Service will survey San Diego's Chicano Park and its murals as part of efforts to add the land to the national list.
The reconnaissance survey is expected to be completed next year and will evaluate the significance of the park and its artwork.
The NPS announcement comes after Rep. Juan Vargas introduced a bill in 2019, The Chicano Park Preservation Act, that would require the Department of Interior to conduct a study of the park's merits for national affiliation.
Vargas said in a release Wednesday that the NPS is willing to conduct the study without passing a bill requiring the department to do so.
"I’m very pleased to learn that the National Park Service will begin their preliminary assessment of Chicano Park early next year. The National Park Service affiliation will help protect the park’s longevity and legacy," said Vargas.
Being affiliated with the NPS would allow the park to be eligible for technical or financial aid. The recognition would also allow Chicano Park to be, "recognized, preserved, and protected as an American history landmark," Vargas adds.
"Chicano Park is our spiritual home and represents a defining moment of victory for the Barrio Logan and Chicano community," said Vargas. "I will continue my work in Congress to ensure that Chicano Park is eligible and recognized as an affiliated site of the National Park System."
Chicano Park was created in 1970 after the Barrio Logan community boycotted the construction of a California Highway Patrol station underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.
In 1980, it received designation as an official historical site by the San Diego Historical Site Board. It listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and as a National Historical Landmark in 2016.
Throughout the year, locals and tourists visit the roughly 80 murals that depict San Diego and Chicano history and culture.
Victor Ochoa, who painted some of the murals, told ABC 10News the history depicted in Chicano Park's art is truly representative of the community because it lacks censorship and showcases important figures.
"The park in itself acts as kind of like an obstacle to just eradicate our heritage, our history, our community," Ochoa said. "I see the spiritual energy more and more in the park and the murals, and the murals become even more historical documents."
On April 20, 2020, Chicano Park celebrated its 50th anniversary.