GUSTINE - A small, aging park located on the city’s east side will be transformed into a new facility complete with the city’s only full-court basketball court and splash pad in coming years.
The City of Gustine landed $1.3 million in Prop. 68 grant funding to renovate Pioneer Park, located at East and East Wallis avenues, and will rebuild the park from the ground up.
The City Council reviewed plans for the park renovation at its Feb. 2 meeting, and enthusiastically offered consensus approval to move forward with the design.
“This project will take (the existing park) back to dirt,” explained Jami Westervelt, the city’s economic and community development director. “We are in essence building a park from the ground up. Nothing that you see there now will be there in the future.”
Westervelt said public input, required as part of the Prop. 68 grant application process, was essential in shaping the park project.
In addition to the basketball court and splash pad, she told Mattos Newspapers, the park design includes a playground, a free play area and two covered picnic areas.
The playground, Westervelt noted, will be an impressive structure with a large slide standing some 29 feet tall. That is a throwback to years past, she said, when a tall, large slide stood in the park.....allowing youngsters the opportunity to pause and look out over the neighborhood before they slid back to ground level.
As a whole, she said, the park design and amenities reflects feedback from the community.
“Public input framed the entire project,” Westervelt stated. “That goes from what is in the park to where it is to what it looks like, down to the colors. They want to see something fun in that park, and they want to see some color.”
Westervelt said the city hopes to be able to add restrooms - which are not in the initial budget - into the project.
“With the features we have, people are going to stay around and be on that site longer,” she predicted.
City Manager Doug Dunford said Pioneer Park will in essence become a hybrid of sorts, serving as both a neighborhood and community park.
“It is going to bring in a lot of the local citizens from around there, but the splash pad and basketball court will attract a lot of people from outside the neighborhood,” Dunford commented.
While larger parks such as Henry Miller and Schmidt are often focal points of activities, Dunford said, he envisions a renovated Pioneer Park coming into its own as a community destination.
“It will have a considerable number of amenities,” he remarked. “It is going to be a very nice park.”
Council members were enthusiastic about the design.
“It really brings it to life,” said Mayor Pat Nagy. “I think this is a great thing for Gustine. I can’t wait to see it come to fruition.”
“I love it,” commented council member Rich Ford. “I love everything about it.”
The city is planning improvements to other parks as well.
In Schmidt Park, a walking path is being constructed and work on a new playground area was scheduled to begin earlier this week. The city also hopes to renovate the tennis courts in Schmidt Park.
In addition, the city plans to apply for Prop. 68 funding to renovate Henry Miller Park. That project, if funded, will include the renovation and expansion of the municipal swimming pool, new playground equipment and other amenities.
Terms of the grant funding for Pioneer Park require the project to be completed by March 2024, but staff members hope to be well ahead of that deadline.
Dunford and Westervelt said they believe completion will be well ahead of that deadline - possibly in time for the community to enjoy the new amenities at some point in 2022.
“It is important that we get it done quickly, but we also want to get it done correctly,” Westervelt commented. “We don’t get the kind of dollars that we have for this project very often in Gustine, so we are trying to be very thoughtful about what we put in there and what will be the best long-term.”