Local park is renamed

Chula vista Discovery park is to be renamed Kumeyaay park


Maddie Almodovar

The sign that says “Discovery Park” is no longer labeled. Similarly, the statue is absent and the plaque that used to describe Christopher Columbus’ achievements are no longer present.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1 Chula Vista council members unanimously approved the renaming of Discovery park in Chula Vista’s Rancho del Rey community to Kumeyaay park. The removal of Christopher Columbus’ name from the park is an effort from the city of Chula Vista for social justice and Indigenous representation to recognize the Kumeyaay people who are native to the region.

For years, Christopher Columbus was credited for discovering the Americas. Now, he is more commonly seen as an instigator of the genocide of Indigenous people in North and South America. Indigenous activists across the nation have worked to remove statues and names honoring him, such as the statue that was in Discovery park and removed in May 2020.

Many people of all ages find a sentimental connection to the Chula Vista park. To most people, Discovery park is a place where Rancho del Rey, Bonita and other communities can come together. The park’s close proximity to BVH’s campus allows many students and staffs to be aware of its existence. BVH teachers and staff, such as history teacher Candice DeVore who has had her fair share of memories surrounding the park.

“As a BVH graduate and a runner, when I was in high school I ran in Discovery park a lot. I remember [watching] my own children’s soccer games in that park.. It is a park that is part of my sphere as it is connected to the BVH community; it holds significance to a lot of people,” DeVore said.

The park is a significant part of BVH students’ lives, considering it is only a quarter mile from the school. It is known for giving the public a place to pass time. With spaces for recreational activities, such as several softball fields, the expansive grass fields and the childrens’ playground, as well as general amenities like public restrooms, benches and parking, the park is highly valued by the community.

“I have memories of playing in this park, playing soccer in the field with my friends and family or spending an afternoon reading under the trees. Discovery park is important to me, and I think that having a better [representative] person or group of people to represent the park would be better for the community’s image,” said junior Marvin Canton.

Since 1991, the statue of Christopher Columbus has stood at Discovery park. In 2020, a protest for social justice against the statue of Christopher Columbus was scheduled to take place at Discovery park. The removal of the statue by the city of Chula Vista followed shortly after on June 12, 2020.

The statue’s removal caught many people’s interest and the public wanted to know more about what the city planned to do about the park and its name. The story of the statue being removed was shared across many news publications in the San Diego area.

“I first came across the statue being taken down during the pandemic. I did not know there was such a hyperlocal example of modern naming and renaming of land and monuments that students could question. I guess I never gave the park name or statue much thought until activists fought to remove the statue,” said DeVore.

Furthering her investigation regarding the removal of the statue, DeVore sought to learn more about the change so she could share it with her United States (U.S.) History class during a segment regarding Christopher Columbus and his effect on the Americas.

“I open my U.S. History Honors class with the exploration of Columbus and I typically ask my students if he is a hero or a villain as a simplification of how complex history can view him. When I was researching this topic during the pandemic I was trying to find ways to connect the age of exploration history to our local history and the Discovery park Columbus statue was a perfect example,” said DeVore.

These changes in the community and the fight for social justice go beyond the classroom. Recent social justice events have inspired many to become avid social activists. Junior Davian Maynard frequently shares and follows social justice movements on social media in an effort to bring awareness to social issues both near and far.

“I have been following the changes at Discovery park. I believe that the name change is important. Columbus’s name and his ‘discovery’ is not something that should be celebrated. I am shocked that a figure like that has statues and land still being named after them. 1991 was not long ago,” said Maynard.

Two years after the removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus and protests at the park, there is still a large group of people that did not know of the park’s change in name. To this day, many are unaware of the official renaming of Discovery park to Kumeyaay park. Currently, there is no significant sign to distinguish the park from others.

“I did not know that the city is renaming the park. I believe it is an absolutely divine idea; it is important that we acknowledge that we are living on the land of the Kumeyaay and we should respect them by changing the name of the park and teaching people why a name like that is wrong,” said Canton.

Now in 2022, Chula Vista council members approved the renaming of Discovery park to Kumeyaay. This was followed by the swift removal of the Discovery Park of Chula Vista sign. The wall where the placard used to reside has been repainted and is awaiting its new name.

“This change is great to see, I think this action [of renaming] will influence social activist groups nationally to do their part. Making important changes like renaming will result in having a much more inclusive society in the future. I am glad to see our city [Chula Vista] taking these necessary actions to change as a priority no matter how big or small,” said Maynard.