Last weekend Dorotea Park in Rohnert Park was filled with families enjoying the brand new play structures that were installed on June 30, concluding the cities’ park improvement plans for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, with new park improvements on the way after the city approved a $1.3 million budget for other park projects.
The brand new play structures at Dorotea Park include a new globe-shaped climbing structure, a climbing wall and ladder, and shiny, clean slides supported by an imitation tree trunk complete with a peeking raccoon with fresh new tanbark completing the look
“We still haven’t gotten to the party we’re going to in the park because the new play structure has been so distracting!,” said Krystle Jeffers, mother of 4-year-old Syndney Jeffers who was particularly fascinated by the globe-shaped climbing structure.
With the new fiscal year starting July 1, the City of Rohnert Park is continuing their commitment to listen to the public’s wishes and concerns regarding park upgrades, approving the budget dedicated for this purpose.
In addition to park revamping, it was approved to spend $950,000 to build a trail between the city and Crane Creek Regional Park and $500,000 to rehabilitate the Sunrise Park courts and the parking lot and to build all-weather soccer and softball fields.
The $1.3 million also includes $200,000 to improve tennis and basketball courts, $240,000 for new playground equipment, $400,000 to repair creek paths and other pathways, $100,000 to demolish the old Alicia pool building and rebuild the restroom, and more.
Some sites, such as Goldridge park which hosts a variety of recreational programs, needs demolition of old buildings, repair on those buildings that can be saved, and general clean up of the site. Since some of the buildings have repeatedly been broken into and vandalized in the past, they simply cannot be saved. Clearing out some of the old buildings not only opens up the park space but also makes it a safer environment for families because having those buildings gone will discourage future vandalism.
The next steps over the following weeks will entail evaluating what parks and projects to focus on first, based not only on the severity of improvements needed, but also how much it is used by the public and the cost to rehabilitate.
Some parks need extensive treatment while other just need some surface improvements. The goal will be to apply the funds as efficiently and effectively as possible. After a priority list is made, the city will research the best products based on space constraints. The parks and recreation commission will request public input at this juncture, to ensure that the community’s needs and wishes are taken into account.
“We did public outreach before doing Dorotea park, and I was surprised – we had around 60 people that showed up,” says John McArthur, Director of Public Works and Community Services for Rohnert Park. “We got a lot of good feedback and presented a few options. We took that feedback to the parks and recreation commission and they selected the two playgrounds…It’s nice that we are now able to put money back into our infrastructure. We listen to our citizens and while we’ve got a long ways to go it’s enjoyable that we’re starting to make improvements to our parks and infrastructure.”
Dorotea park is one of three parks to be renovated in the span of two years, followed by Golis and Rainbow parks.
The biggest and most complex infrastructure project in the pipeline is completing the restroom renovations in the parks, which McArthur hopes will be at least 90 percent completed this fiscal year.
“We closed our restrooms around 2010 during the recession as a cost cutting move,” says McArthur. “The cost of maintaining the restrooms was not that high, but the vandalism was very costly. The restrooms were heavily vandalized, almost on a daily basis and that not only gets very expensive but also becomes a hazard to our citizens. If things get destroyed or are lit on fire and a kid goes in there it’s a bad situation.”
The new, modern restrooms will feature more robust fixtures and graffiti-resistant paint, and in some cases, moved to a more visible location that is less vulnerable to vandalism. Security cameras will also be installed outside of the restrooms.
The city completed and opened restrooms in Alicia, Benicia and Magnolia (tennis court) parks. The restroom in Colegio Vista park is under construction and future renovations are planned for Eagle, Sunrise, Golis, Magnolia (fields) and Dorotea parks.
Part of the operating budget has also been reserved for regular maintenance of park facilities, and the city will also hire an additional landscaper to better maintain the parks.
Construction on projects in this fiscal year budget could happen as early as this fall, weather permitting.