Roseville names 67th park after Carmelita’s founders

Husband and wife also involved with local sports
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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The husband and wife behind Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant in Roseville are being honored for their contributions to the local community with the naming of the city’s 67th park after them.

Heredia Park officially opened Tuesday with a dedication ceremony recognizing Alberto and Carmen Heredia who left their native Mexico and moved to Roseville in 1943 so the husband could work as a guest laborer under the Bracero Program. He worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad.

In 1965, the couple opened Carmelita’s on Riverside Avenue. The restaurant still operates today. Alberto died in 1988 and his wife passed away in 1991.

Son Paul Gonzalez, who serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, said his parents would have loved Heredia Park. He choked up when thanking the city and builder Meritage Homes for making the park possible.

“This may sound corny, but to my stepfather and mother this is the American Dream,” he said.

His mother became a widow at age of 18 with two children. She and Alberto married and the family grew to seven. Gonzalez’s father worked for the railroad for years and his mother worked for a cannery in Sacramento.

“My mom used to always cook for people for nothing,” Gonzalez said. “People always said why don’t you start your own restaurant?”

She eventually did.

The Heredias were also instrumental in increasing local opportunities for soccer of all ages by organizing and sponsoring local teams. They also donated a statue of former Mexican president and hero Benito Juarez to the city, which stands in Royer Park.

In September 1988, Alberto was one of five Roseville citizens honored for making significant contributions to the community. A grove of trees at Maidu Park was dedicated to the residents. Heredia Drive and Heredia Court in west Roseville are also named for the couple.

The couple was previously recognized for their contributions to the Mexican-American community by presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, and by four California governors.

The two and a half acre park serves residents in Fiddyment Farms and is located at 2201 Spring Grove Drive. The park was built on behalf of the city by MeritageHomes and contains a children’s play area, small picnic area, open turf, perimeter walkway and two half courts for basketball.

“It’s not secret that Roseville values its park system,” said Roseville Parks, Recreation and Libraries Director Dominick Casey, during the ceremony.

Parks bring communities together, he said, and act as communal front yards. During the ceremony, resident James Palmer and his two young children paid their first visit to the park to enjoy a game of hoops on the basketball court. They live across the street.

“We’re going to be rollerblading and playing hockey over here and for (my kids) to be able to roll around in the grass is great,” Palmer said.