Parks & Recreation Director Armando Solis’ presentation to Parks & Rec commissioners and City Council includes how the city might spend state dollars to upgrade Meadowview Park, Gora Aquatics Center, including the Skate Park, Harvey Park and Lions Park.

Parks & Recreation Director Armando Solis presented to the Parks & Recreation Commission on July 10 how Proposition 68 could bring the city’s parks needed upgrades. His presentation included how the city might spend state dollars to upgrade Meadowview Park, Harvey Park, Lions Park and Gora Aquatics Center, including the Skate Park.

Parks & Rec commissioners voted unanimously to recommend to City Council that the city submit an application for the Prop 68 funding.

City Council was expected to approve the recommendation at Tuesday’s council meeting; results were not available as of press time.

According to Solis, his plans for upgrades will help save maintenance dollars in the future.

“If awarded the grant, it would allow the city to replace dilapidated features in these parks that the city cannot fund,” Solis said. “Also, adding some of these features would reduce the cost of our landscape contract by reducing the square footage to mow and water. Although the items we are recommending do not have immediate maintenance costs associated with them, they too will have to be repaired and maintained in time.”

Solis’ recommendation included the particulars of the state funding, saying Proposition 68 is a state general bond that invests $4 billion over time to address some of California’s most critical water and natural resource needs. Funds from the bond will also help address deferred park maintenance, provide necessary funding for natural resource protection and restoration, and allow for repairs and improvements that will help facilitate better visitor experiences, now and in the future.

Solis said much of the credit for the park upgrade plans goes to Administrative Assistant Leslie Sheets whose help was invaluable to the project.

Park upgrades and needed maintenance was put on hold during the last housing downturn around 2008 when the city’s finances also went down the drain. Former City Manager Eugene Palazzo had earmarked dollars last year when his staff announced that over $4 million in unassigned dollars could address the aging park needs, only to come back to council a few months later to say the city had no reserves and was indeed short millions.

Solis describes some park needs as “dire.”

“The cement tables at Harvey Park have been broken for years,” said Solis. “We will need to remove or repair the shade structure at Meadowview Park within the next two years, and the restrooms have not been upgraded in over 25 years.”

Solis’ plans for Gora Aquatic Center include a more accessible splash pad, restroom renovations, solar bleacher shade covers, a re-plastering of the pools, replacement of heaters, and added pavilions with benches and a new scoreboard.

In his plans, the skate park would be relocated east near Chabolla Avenue. It would have added seating, shade, water fountains and curved cement ramps.

Plans recommended by Solis for Harvey Park include a new playground for 2- to 5-year-olds, restroom, snack bar/storage room, basketball court, dog park, perimeter fence, fenced garden area, synthetic turf for baseball field, dugout shade and a new scoreboard. This plan also calls for the purchase of the property south of the garden.

Lions Oak Park would get two new playground areas – one for 2- to 5-year-olds and one for 5- to 12-year-olds. It would also include pavilions with benches, a dog park, water fountains and a cinderblock perimeter wall. The walkway would be redesigned and a new monument sign would also be included.

Meadowview Park renovation plans also include two new playgrounds, restrooms, snack bar, basketball court, dog park, shaded bleachers, dugout shade, walking paths, batting cages, horseshoe pits and added parking.

Solis said the city could expect up to $8.5 million from the bond money for each park. Solis’ full presentation, including maps of each park with recommended upgrades, can be found on the city’s website under “Council Reports” for July 16.

During the meeting, Jeff Dubchansky of the USA Softball Association for the Greater Sacramento Area, presented the Parks & Rec Department with a $825 check to help buy video equipment. The donor organization is a nonprofit, and all proceeds go back into programs and grants for area softball teams.