SAN DIEGO — Families in southern San Diego County have two major new park projects to look forward to — and the federal government just granted $10 million to help make those spaces a reality.

The Beyer Park project in San Ysidro and Sweetwater Park development in Chula Vista each received $5 million grants from the U.S. Department of the Interior, officials announced last week. The funding comes from a program specifically focused on creating more green space and outdoor recreation options in underserved areas.

If you’re not familiar with either coming attraction, here’s what you need to know:

Sweetwater Park

Sweetwater Park is a signature piece of the huge new development reimagining Chula Vista’s bayfront. The Port of San Diego says it’s taking a largely vacant and industrial stretch of coastline and adding a thriving new district with public parks, an RV resort, hotels, shops and homes.

Sweetwater Park will cover 21 sprawling acres on the northern portion of the bay. The Port describes it as a “passive park,” focused on the natural environment of the area. That means meadows, specialty gardens and grasslands dotted with picnic areas and connected through walking and bicycle paths.

A Port spokesperson said construction is slated to begin in early 2023. The federal government’s grant will cover nearly half of the park’s $12 million price tag, they added.

Check out renderings of the green space in the photo gallery above. And learn more about the broader Chula Vista Bayfront Project on the Port of San Diego website.

Beyer Park

This 8-acre park will be located on Beyer Boulevard just east of Interstate 805 and south of San Ysidro Middle School. It’s designed to serve the communities of Otay Mesa and San Ysidro, but could attract families from nearby South Bay communities, too.

Beyer will feature a dog park for both large and small pups, a new skate park, a playground, ball fields, walking trails and picnic areas. Skate and dog parks in particular are always in high demand, so project renderings showcasing the facilities are sure to excite residents in the area. Separate play areas will serve different age groups: ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12.

The federal grant funding will provide for the first phase of construction, ranging from the playgrounds to picnic areas and the skate park, plus smaller but important additions, from drinking fountains to security lighting, landscaping and parking, a city spokesperson explained by email.

“Our Parks & Recreation Department is working to identify the remaining funds required to construct Phase 1,” wrote Public Information Officer Tyler Becker. “We anticipate advertising the construction contract for Phase 1 this summer with the hope of starting construction in early 2023.”

Check out more about the project on the City of San Diego’s website.

Parks where they’re needed most

The federal grant program benefiting both local parks is called the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership. It doled out $61.1 million to projects in 26 cities this year, targeting “economically underserved communities” to help “form connections between people and the outdoors,” the interior department said.

Representatives for the Sierra Club, the influential environmental organization, applauded the move to award funding in San Diego.

“Over 100 million Americans, including 28 million children, lack access to a quality park within a 10 minute walk / roll from their home,” Sierra Club spokesperson Jayni Rasmussen wrote by email. “For example, in Chula Vista, it’s estimated that over 80,000 people, or 30% of residents, lack access to a park.”

“The Chula Vista project will transform an industrial port area into a beautiful natural area for recreation and wildlife viewing,” she continued. “The Beyer project, currently a fenced-off area, will complete the second phase of improvements and bring a high quality park to the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa communities.”

Rasmussen, who has visited both communities on site visits, said she was heartened by the projects “ensuring that all San Diegans, regardless of zip code, can enjoy the proven physical and mental health benefits that outdoor access provides.”