Five cities in Stanislaus County are in line to receive $1.64 million in federal funding for their park projects, such as a skate plaza in Newman, buying land for a park in Hughson and new playground equipment for a Ceres park.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation recently announced that it had recommended $6.94 million in funding for 16 projects throughout the state, including the five in Stanislaus County.
The funding is from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. State Parks and Recreation recommends projects to the National Park Service, which administers the fund. The park service typically approves funding for the projects recommended by the state, according to an email from Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
Waters wrote in her email that the cities should know by August whether the park service will fund their projects.
According to a news release, the state Department of Parks and Recreation has recommended these local projects:
• $550,00 to Hughson to acquire roughly 29 acres for its new Seventh Street Park.
• $451,060 to Modesto to build about 4,100 feet of trail, a pedestrian bridge and a fishing deck in the gateway parcel of Tuolumne River Regional Park.
• $250,000 to Ceres for a new playground, picnic pavilion and basketball court at Ryno Park.
• $220,075 to Waterford for the South Reinway Avenue Recreational Park and Trailhead. The project includes a wildlife-viewing platform, a new access road, a parking lot with lighting, landscaping and security gate, restrooms and a picnic area.
• $173,311 to Newman for a new skate plaza at Lions Park.
These are the only projects in the Northern San Joaquin Valley that the state has recommended for funding. The cities have to match the grants dollar for dollar if they receive them. For instance, if Modesto receives the $451,060 for the gateway parcel, it will match that with $451,060 it received from the state for the project.
Hughson is proposing to build its community park across the street from the high school. The city still needs to determine what kind of amenities the park will have, but City Manager Raul Mendez said residents are eager for a community park, especially in the older part of the city.
He said the city is considering downsizing the park from 29 to 20 acres and would receive about $343,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund toward the purchase of the 20 acres. Mendez said he’s spoken with state officials and they are receptive about building a smaller park. He said a smaller park will let the Hughson Unified School District, which owns the 29 acres, maintain land for its agricultural program.
Mendez said the Land and Water Conservation Fund requires that at the very least, grant recipients establish a passive park, such as grass fields, within three years of receiving funding.
“There is still much work ahead, including actively pursuing other grant funding for development and creating a sustainable plan for ongoing maintenance and operation, but this is a positive first step,” Mendez said in an email.