Armando Solis

Parks and Recreation Director Armando Solis explains to residents attending the Gora Aquatic Center improvement meeting last Friday evening how four parks in Galt qualify to apply for Prop. 68 funding.

A couple dozen interested residents attended three of the four public meetings hosted by the city officials in the Parks and Rec department over the last week. The meetings were giving the public the opportunity to voice their wildest dreams of what they would like several parks in town to look like. Those dreams will be discussed at tonight’s Parks and Rec monthly meeting, which meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Parks and Recreation Director Armando Solis directed the meetings where he explained that only a handful of Galt’s parks are eligible for possible grant money, courtesy of Proposition 68. Up for grabs is anywhere between $200,000 to $8 million per park, according to Solis. However, the grant is competitive and available for agencies across the state to apply for the funds.

Meetings were held at different park locations that are eligible for grant funds – Meadowview Park, Harvey Park, Lions Oak Park and Gora Aquatic Center, including the Skate Park; however, no residents attended the Lions Oak Park meeting.

Attendees of the Meadowview Park meeting would like to see water fountains, shade for the bleachers and dugouts, a parking area, water feature, batting cage, horseshoe pit, lights and a dog park, to name just a few new features.

Residents attending the Harvey Park meeting envision more shade over bleachers and dugouts, a water feature, new scoreboard, artificial turf, more parking, basketball court and to purchase additional land just south of the Barbara Payne Community Garden adjacent to the baseball field, among other things.

The discussion at the Gora Aquatic Center also included more shade structures, as well as moving the Skate Park just east of its current location and making it an all cement park. If the Skate Park makes the move, that will open its original location for desired picnic tables with shade structures. Other desires included adding solar heating to allow for year round swimming, updated showers, widening the pool to allow for opportunities to host swim meets, and a deeper pool and diving board.

Although there was no public interest on improvements to Lions Oak Park, staff has its eye on two separate playgrounds catering to 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds, a dog walk area, shade structure with tables, extended landscape, cinderblock walls and a monument sign.

Prop. 68, a general obligation bond similar to Measure E and K passed in 2016 here in Galt, was placed on the November 2018 ballot, where it passed with a 56 percent approval. The funds are being rolled out in cycles; up for grabs right now is approximately $200 million.

Authored by state Senator Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, the initiative was in response to what de León called the “under-investment” in parks, wild lands and water systems in economically challenged communities.

Prop. 68 authorizes the state to borrow $4.1 billion for investments in outdoor recreation, including local parks, among other things.

The rainbow leading to the pot of gold with the $4.1 billion is Senate Bill 5, California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018. Passing the California Senate and Assembly in September 2017, the bill was approved by the Governor in October 2017. The general obligation bond was then placed on the November 2018 ballot.

State officials already had their eye on specific projects while the bill was going through the California legislature. With its passing, many California projects will get an economic steroid, including $200 million for improving water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay. Also included in funding will be millions slated for state parks.

Agencies across the state are vying for the funding. Grant proposals are due later this summer, with the hope of approval by the end of the year.