The park encompasses 22 acres and was originally owned by the New Haven Optimist Club. The Optimists purchased 16 acres of the site for $5,400 in 1962.
The main use of the park originally was for baseball and softball. In 1965 the original ball field was fenced and lights were added.
In 1973 the Optimist donated 4.5 acres to the City. The purpose for the donation was to allow the City to obtain funding to develop the 4.5 acres by adding a pool. The total cost of the pool was $85,000, half of which provided by a federal grant. The pool was completed and opened in June 1974.
The city obtained funding to develop the remainder of the 4.5 acres. In 1977 a pavilion, a little league softball field, a basketball court and a tennis court was added to the City Park.
The Optimist Club purchased an additional six acres for $7,000. This land contained a two-acre lake.
In the late 70’s, the Optimist Club members erected a clubhouse near the large softball field. The building is 2,640 square foot. The building was used as a banquet hall/meeting room. The front of the building adjacent to the ball field served as a concession area.
The Optimist Club members dedicated this building to George G. Barry who was instrumental in development of the Optimist Park and spent many tireless hours improving the park for community use. In 2004 the New Haven Optimist Club donated all of their remaining property to the City of New Haven for recreational use. The Clubhouse can still be used as a Banquet/Meeting Room and is rented out for various family activities.