Housing / Land Use

SJB likely to change Franklin Circle Park design

Though the Planning Commission adopted plans in December, community members prefer an alternative option.

The San Juan Bautista Planning Commission is taking a step back on the design it approved in December for a park at Franklin Circle, which is yet to be named. The approved design included a bocce ball court, a barbeque pit and picnic tables.

Though agendized as an action item, the Planning Commission opted to only discuss it at its Jan. 5 meeting because it lacked a quorum, with the two vacancies left by Shirley Brewer and newly elected Councilman Scott Freels. In addition, commissioner Yolanda Delgado recused herself from the item because she lives in the vicinity of the park. 

City Manager Don Reynolds said that after further discussion with the community following the adoption of the design, some community members said they preferred an alternative option. He added he expects to change the design in February when the new Planning Commission is seated. 

“The resolution we have does not reflect the true intentions of the community,” Reynolds said. “So I don’t want to go forward with the design of the project until such a time when we have the Planning Commission change that resolution.”

With no official changes made at the meeting, Rochelle Eagen, lead library technician, presented commissioners with an updated plan that includes looking into solar-powered lighting, replacing the wharf head fire hydrant, and signage placement. 

Eagen said replacing the hydrant with a barrel hydrant was not an option because the upgrade would require a six-inch water pipe. The current hydrant has a four-inch water pipe. She added that because of the lack of power at the park, the city is looking into solar bollard lighting.

Another change that the city will propose is installing an American with Disabilities Act access ramp near the intersection. It is located farthest from the intersection in the current design. 

“For walkability, you’d be coming off of Sixth Street or Franklin Street and have access to the park that way,” Eagen said, adding that the city has access to “substantial amounts of grant money” and monies donated by Glenny Farney’s family on her behalf to complete the project. Reynolds previously told BenitoLink the project’s cost would not exceed $132,000. 

Though Delagdo recused herself from participating in any action, she remained in the Zoom meeting for Eagen’s presentation after being given the okay by Reynolds. Prior to the presentation, she questioned why the item was kept in the agenda, as the city should have been aware there would not be a quorum. 

Reynolds said he kept it on the agenda as a way to keep the commission updated on the project and not have it stall. 

“We didn’t want to slow down the project,” he said. 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.