The Hollister City Council unanimously approved a March 25 report on the draft update to the city’s park master plan. Included in the report was a presentation on the concept designs for the Water Reclamation Park Facility, also known as Brigantino Park.
Design engineers from Kimley-Horn presented preliminary concept designs at the meeting. Project Manager Michael Madsen and landscape architect Matthew Morgan explained the first step was to come up with a concept everyone agreed on. Madsen said the park could be an intricate part of the community and the region, and that it represented a branding opportunity for Hollister to attract tourists.
The concept offers a balance of pedestrian and biking access to the park, Morgan said, with parking in several locations to provide access to amenities. The first phase would be to generate revenue, which he said is critical for the success of the park.
Parking areas were designed not to obstruct views of hills and the river, Morgan said, adding that the neighborhood park would include sports courts, playgrounds, a splash pad, soccer fields, an amphitheater, an open area for multi-use activities, a festival plaza for small events, and a small wildlife interpretive area. There are also plans for a fourplex of softball fields to attract competition from local and outside communities, and a bridge over the San Benito River that connects with South Street.
The first phase of building out Brigantino Park would be dependent on funding, Morgan said. It would include parking and two of the softball fields to generate support from local usage and possibly attract teams from other areas. Madsen added that if the first phase was done right and locals “get some skin in the game,” they could find more creative ways of funding.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said the concepts were beautiful, but wondered if a path around the park was still included. Madsen assured him it was, but said the many new shade trees in the concept hid most of the path from view. He said there would be a trail system throughout the park linking up the different activity zones.
Velazquez asked Tina Garza with the city’s recreation department if four softball fields would attract tournaments. She told him there was the potential to attract national or regional tournaments with 20 to 50 teams at a time.
“It could be very profitable because it’s a good location; we don’t have anything in our area besides the Salinas Sports Complex,” Garza said, “that probably hosts 60-70 teams a weekend with a six-field complex.”
Councilman Rolan Resendiz wanted to see more cultural activity areas with artwork included in the concept designs. Councilwoman Carol Lenoir asked whether grass or artificial turf would be used in the ballparks. The consultants told her it would it be a combination of both.
Resident Robin Pollard told the council it was important to name the park as soon as possible. She also said that the Park Hill master plan has yet to be followed, 12 years after it was approved. Councilmember Marty Richman said grand plans for parks are great, but nothing will happen unless funding sources are identified.
“When you look at what we’re proposing there’s big dollar signs all over the place,” Richman said. “I like the plan, but to make it work is going to take an awful lot of money and we don’t have a good plan on where to get that money.”
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