[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] — A 7-foot-tall rock and concrete shrine with no names attached has stood on a vacant lot at 18th Street and Convent Avenue for more than 20 years. Longtime barrio residents know well this homemade shrine to Santa Teresa commemorates Diego and Orlando Mendoza, two toddlers, aged 17 months and 2 1/2 years, killed at the intersection in 1981 by a drunken driver. The names will come to the forefront as the city builds El Parque de Diego y Orlando Mendoza on the 9,235 square feet (about 100 by 90 feet) around the shrine. The shrine has been the lot’s only defining feature since it went up in 1984, but archaeologists in the past two weeks uncovered multiple layers of history stretching from the 1880s to the 1930s.
The last buildings at the corner were apparently torn down in the 1970s, said Barbara Montgomery, principal investigator of Tierra Right of Way Services. Tierra’s dig is a required first step before the Tucson Parks & Recreation Department can start design work on a small neighborhood park that will likely have a paved walk, trees and shrubs, said Kevin McElheny, landscape architect and project manager at the department. Once Tierra gives clearance for construction, the city department will start design work with hopes to start building the park in fall and opening it by the end of the year, McElheny said. All city projects have to go through a cultural resource compliance process to determine if a given site is historically significant, said Jonathan Mabry,the city’s new historic preservation officer. Montgomery said Tierra Right of Way will clear the Mendoza lot for reuse as a park, which may be the third or fourth generation of development on the site since the 1880s-1890s foundations uncovered in the current dig. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]