Youth leagues will benefit from $1 million in improvements at the east-side Jesse Owens Park, city officials say.

Separately, anyone younger than 18 years old can swim for free at city pools starting June 1.

City Councilman Paul Cunningham grew up playing soccer and baseball at the park, and he coached his children in flag football and T-ball, he said Thursday at a news conference announcing the improvements and free swimming for kids.

Cunningham, 43, said Jesse Owens Park is a part of his life, and he will be excited to see crews this summer begin working on two lighted soccer fields, resurfacing of the basketball court and expanding the parking lot at the neighborhood park at 400 S. Sarnoff Drive, south of Broadway.

“The park has not received any capital improvements in a long time,” said Cunningham, explaining that all construction is expected to be completed in the spring. The park is used by seven youth leagues that play soccer, basketball, football and Little League baseball.

Funding for the $1 million improvements is coming from grants, impact fees, the city’s general fund and private donations, said Cunningham.

He also said the city is waiving the fee this summer for youths at its 17 pools, which attract 145,000 children during the hot months. The only pool that will not be free is the therapeutic pool at the Edith Ball Adaptive Recreation Center.

Waiving the fees is expected to cause a net loss of $40,000.

“The hit is small enough to make the pools free and accessible to youth,” said Cunningham, adding that the losses will likely be recouped through private donations collected by possibly two foundations.

Officials also said Tucson Water, which had a surplus in its operating budget, will provide $3.5 million for irrigation systems for parks throughout the city. The upgraded systems will be installed at parks that need it the most, said Cunningham. He said there are more than 100 city parks and about $18 million needed for irrigation systems.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or On Twitter: @cduartestar