Some history before the interim off-leash dog park opens next month at Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park…
Ward Canyon in Normal Heights appeared on maps in 1921 as a "Deep and Steep Grade to Mission Valley," and it separated Normal Heights from Kensington until 1913, when a wood trestle bridge was built to span the canyon. Ward Road was just as steep and came up the grade from Roscoe Hazard's asphalt plant in Mission Valley to gravel pits north of Adams Avenue.
Over a period of 30 years (1972 to 2002), Caltrans completed I-15 along 40th Street and in the process deepened and buried Ward Canyon but gave the city approximately four acres of land for a park along 40th Street at Adams Avenue.
The grand opening for the 39th Street Park — the name chosen by Caltrans — took place on March 29, 2003. This was the first new park of any significant size since Adams Park opened at 35th Street and Adams Avenue in December of 1987, and residents were excited about the proposed future amenities that would enhance the new park.
Some residents thought the park's name should reflect the history of Normal Heights, and in 2005 a movement developed to re-name the park. Researching the name "Ward" revealed three gentlemen whose last name may have been chosen to name the road and the canyon: "Old Man Ward," a truck farmer who lived and farmed along the road. Residents wanting to buy his produce were told to go down "Old Man Ward's Road"; Simon Lett Ward, a county surveyor and an original member of the Board of Public Works; and Martin Luther Ward, chairman of the Board of Public Works, district attorney for the County of San Diego, and state senator from San Diego County.
All the community groups impacted by a possible name change were contacted and their approval was obtained before requesting the change from the city's Parks and Recreation board. Finally, the new name — Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park— was recognized with a ceremony on March 28, 2008.
Today a small part of Ward Road remains in Mission Valley near Friars Road, and another segment leads to Normal Heights Elementary School at East Mountain View Drive and Ward Road.