This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna
San Benito County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 1 as introduction to the first phase of construction of Riverview Regional Park. About 60 people attended the event held at the site of the future parking lot.
Planning of the regional park began in 2012 and the county was awarded $750,000 by the state for the project in September 2021.
The park is located on 45 acres off River Parkway south of Hollister High School and is envisioned as part of a 20-mile walkway along the San Benito River. San Benito High School District provided a 99-year lease for the 46.9 acres of undeveloped land on which the park will be constructed.
The project will include universal access trails, exercise stations, picnic areas, disc golf, restrooms, playgrounds, and a turfed area. Possible additions to the project include a pump track for wheeled sports equipment, a radio-controlled car track, sports facilities, a garden, and an amphitheater.
Phase one has a $3.5 million budget, phase two of the project is budgeted at $4.25 million and is still in the planning stage, and phase three is still in need of park development funds.
San Benito County Resource Management Agency interim Director Steve Loupe said part of the vision is to construct trails connecting the proposed Sunnyside Park near Hospital Road, Tres Pinos, and Hollister to San Juan Bautista.
“However, those are visions. But for now, we are here today for realization of visions so it can happen,” Loupe said.
Engineers from Wallace Group designed the parking area and made it handi-cap accessible. The parking lot is part of phase one projects that include (see PDF of concept design below):
- Universal access trails
- Cross country course
- Adventure playground
- Picnic areas
- Exercise stations
- Skating circle
- Sport courts
- Pickleball complex
- Bicycle pump track
- Interpretive signs
- Maintenance building
- Public art
Loupe, Andres Rodriguez from Assemblymember Robert Rivas’s office, District 3 Supervisor Peter Hernandez and District 2 Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki spoke to the attendees saying the park’s vision is the result of work and dedication and that it will make families and the San Benito community happy.
“We’re excited to see this coming together. Excited for future generations to come to enjoy the place and bring their families in,” Rodriguez said.
Hernandez’s speech highlighted the efforts of getting the Riverview Regional Park up on the agenda and done.
“When a small community has limited funds and resources, we have to be mean and mean. It makes us stronger and more focused. What you see here is the outcome of a lot of collaboration and work and ultimately love,” Hernandez said.
Kosmicki said this park has to be one of the most impactful things the entire board has done.
“It’s not only the current board/staff that has been involved. This goes back one decade, prior members/supervisors, advocates like R.E.A.C.H San Benito and many residents,” he said.
The Community Foundation for San Benito County, with funding from Sallie Calhoun and Matt Christiano, organized listening sessions in 2012 that included over 1,000 residents. One of the main needs identified in the sessions was more land for parks and recreation, resulting in the formation of R.E.A.C.H. Another major need identified in the listening sessions was trustworthy local news and government reporting, which led to the creation of BenitoLink.
San Benito County staff collected 261 survey responses from residents in May 2021 as part of getting input on what features the community wanted to see included in the park.
“This project is proof that real progress is possible when we work together and when we find common goals to pursue,” said Kosmicki.
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