Government / Politics

Hollister Council approves first phase of $2.4 million McCarthy Park renovation

After choosing from an á la carte menu of options for the renovation of long-neglected McCarthy Park, the total came to almost $2.4 million.

The Hollister City Council on Monday approved the concept plan for the McCarthy Street Park design and the appropriation of $247,333 to construct the first of two phases for future recreation in a historically underserved part of the city.

At the April 2 meeting, Management Services Director Mike Chambless and Elizabeth Mats of BFS Landscape Architects told the council the construction of the park would be in two phases.

The first phase would be a basic park consisting of a large grassy area surrounded by a walking path, along with the existing basketball court, picnic area, playground, benches, and infrastructure that would cost $906,906. The second phase would consist of an á la carte menu of choices, each with its own dollar amount that the council was asked to choose from. The tally increased as each councilmember selected an option from the menu until the total cost of the park was $2,388,394.

The á la carte items included a combination stage and skateboard area for $111,028; lighting $76,000; swing set $84,500; par course $69,250; splash pad $637,100; restroom $324,00; handball wall $53,420; climbing wall (on backside of handball wall) $43,000; removal of shredded rubber from playground area $83,100.

Chambless commented that the splash pad is three times larger than the water feature at Valley View Park, more commonly referred to as Whale Park.

“This neighborhood is historically underserved," Chambless said. "It’s economically depressed and there’s a lot of need for a way to cool off in the summer. Not everybody has air conditioning. Last year, we had several days where it was over 116 degrees. This [splash pad] would provide an opportunity for those people to cool down.”

Councilwoman Mickie Luna described the park as the “dream park.”

“That area has never had a decent park,” Luna said. She added that it could serve as a staging area in case of an earthquake. “I like the picnic area. There is a card club of elders that meet in a garage. I mentioned there may be a park for them and they said all they want are benches so they can sit together and get out of that garage.”

She said many people in that area feel uncomfortable about traveling across town to Valley View Park, so a water feature at McCarthy Street Park would serve the local community.

“Click every one of them,” she then told Chambless.

Chambless told the council upon approval of the concept drawing the city would move forward to procure construction drawings that he hoped would be approved by August. The project would go out to bid upon approval.

Back in February, Chambless and Mats attempted to present the plan to the Parks & Recreation Committee, but it did not have a quorum. Despite that, Mats went ahead and made the presentation to about 14 people. While Chambless considered that a good turnout, he said he personally sent out 1,000 letters in English and Spanish to the community that contained the concept drawing and an invitation to the February meeting. After receiving feedback from attendees, Chambless presented the plan to the committee at its March meeting. Only three residents came.

At Monday's meeting, Chambless said the city received a state grant of $651,000 and that a supplemental appropriation of about $250,000 would totally fund the park project. He also reminded the council that there was currently $3.5 million in the city’s park development fund, which he said could pay for the entire project minus the state grant.

“If we have the opportunity to leverage the $651,000 grant, I think we should do everything we can possibly do,” Councilman Jim Gillio said.

Gillio commented that he had asked at previous meetings how people felt about having cameras to monitor the park. He said he got positive responses from the public. He said considering the expense of the park it should be protected from vandalism and other crimes.

Chambless said he could include the cost of conduits for cameras, but until the city figured out how to extend fiber optics from Park Hill, cameras could not be installed.

Councilman Ray Friend asked if a choice could be made between the splash pad and the restrooms. Chambless told him the two options go together, adding up to approximately $1 million. Friend said he recalled at some of the meetings how important the stage was to residents who wanted to see concerts performed at the park.

In addition to the stage, Friend also wanted to add the lighting. Laughter rolled through the audience.

“Just click them all," resident Marty Richman said. “It’s only money."

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez joked, “This is going on your credit card, right, Ray?”


John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]