ATWATER -- Some parks are set to get new niceties after the City Council on Monday unanimously passed a call for bids.
The city is looking to install new playground equipment at Veterans Park, restroom fixtures at Osborn Park and synthetic surfacing for both dugouts at Fireman's Memorial Ball Park.
The decision also includes a call for bids for security lighting at Veterans Park, Osborn Park, Joan Faul Park, Manuel Bairos Park and E.L. Walters Park.
The new features aren't only for recreation -- they would also improve safety, said Mayor Joan Faul.
"We hope that with more lighting, we'll help deter violence and vandalism," she said. "We want to keep our parks safe and usable."
The council's decision will affect most Atwater residents since "almost all of the parks are receiving something," Faul said.
Funding for the improvements is coming through grants, which total to an estimated $122,000, said Assistant City Manager Stan Feathers.
The city needs to put the grants to use soon or risk the possibility of losing them, he said.
The changes are being dispersed throughout the parks "on a basis of need," Feathers said. The parks receiving the attention are all heavily used.
"Some of the parks' lighting has been an issue," he said. "It's mostly just things that get the parks in better shape."
A 2009 parks and recreation master plan survey indicated a lot of people don't feel safe in Atwater parks after dark, said Pat Faretta, parks and community services director.
"We're looking to address that issue," he said. "Ultimately, our parks are safe."
Some of the funding for the project came through a bond passed in 2002, Faretta said. A portion of that money went toward other projects, including playground equipment at Osborn Park and the refurbishment of Castle Youth Center.
City officials will continue to look for ways to improve parks, Feathers added.
"We're just like any other city -- infrastructure deteriorates over time," he said. "This is just a great use for the grants."
The next step in the project will be to award a bid for construction to a company after searching for the right deal, Feathers said. All the work will be completed before June 30, 2011.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.