Doolen-Fruitvale Neighborhood Profile

Doolen-Fruitvale Neighborhood by CJ Boyd 

The Doolen-Fruitvale neighborhood runs from Country Club Rd. east to Palo Verde Ave. and from Glenn St. south to Grant Rd. Founded in 2003, the Doolen-Fruitvale Neighborhood Association is one of the newest Neighborhood Associations in Ward 3.

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As the name suggests, Doolen Middle School, located at the corner of Country Club and Grant, is neighborhood’s most significant feature. Built in 1942, the original name was Catalina Junior High School. The school currently has 578 students. At a recent meeting with Pima County Supervisor Rex Scott, we discussed the fact that he was an assistant principal at Doolen Middle School 22 years ago, and there were almost 900 students.

Doolen Middle is one of seven schools in Pima County that use a Community School Model, which is a pilot program partially funded by the county to meet the economic, emotional, and behavioral needs of students of students. Doolen has the highest student homelessness rate of any middle school in TUSD, and has multiple programs to address the needs of refugees, and other student groups who need extra help. There are 19 languages spoken at Doolen, which provides special challenges as well as a rich cultural landscape in which students and families are able to learn from each other. Keep an eye out for a future newsletter article dedicated to just the Community School Model program.

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Doolen Middle School, at the corner of N. Country Club and E. Grant Road.

 According to Helen Garfinkle, founding Neighborhood Association board member and resident of Doolen-Fruitvale for over 30 years, the neighborhood was named not only after the Doolen Middle School, but also the Fruitvale Subdivision, which is how the surrounding area was historically designated. 

The Neighborhood Association was responsible for installing the Sparkman Butterfly Garden in the dirt yard in front of the TEP Substation between Bermuda St. and Flower St. One of the boulders was donated by Ward 3’s own Bennett Bernal.

The Sparkman Butterfly Garden is a lovely oasis in the neighborhood, which doesn’t contain any official parks or churches. It does contain a few other notable neighborhood resources such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson on Grant Road and Exodus Community Services on Country Club Road. The latter, according to their mission statement, exists to provide people in recovery “with safe, drug and alcohol-free, twelve-step oriented environments” in order to provide clients with the “care and structure necessary to develop life skills essential for transition to independent living.”

Doolen-Fruitvale has a mix of single family homes, apartments, and mobile homes, with an even mix of homes that are rented and those that are owner occupied. 

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Some neighbors on Water Street get ready for Halloween with creepy yard decorations.

One of the few local restaurants in Doolen-Fruitvale's bounds is Robert’s Restaurant, a breakfast and lunch spot serving American diner fare located on Grant Rd. and Edith Blvd. Another interesting local business is Native Rainbows, a Native American goods store located on Glenn St. 

When asked her favorite thing about living in Doolen-Fruitvale, Neighborhood Association co-chair Kali Van Campen said, “Since I’ve been here, I was happy to see the City-owned land behind/attached to Doolen Middle School be developed into soccer fields and a walking park, as I live just a few blocks away.”

Neighbor Helen Garfinkle mentioned the same soccer field as one of the great improvements the City has recently made. “My favorite thing about living here is the beautiful soccer park created in the Doolen School playground area. It is well maintained by Parks & Rec, and I walk the track every morning in a lovely open green space, with full view of the mountains and sky. The other thing I love is that I can be anywhere in less than 10 minutes. Very convenient.”

Ms. Garfinkle added, “I’ve lived here for over 30 years and have seen the neighborhood change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Lately I’ve see small changes for the better, a little free library, a new owner who beautifies their yard. I am always hopeful.”

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The Doolen-Fruitvale Little Free Library on Flower Street.