The city of Gustine recently conducted a series of sessions to take input from residents of all ages about what amenities and features they would like to see in local parks. Jami Westervelt, the city’s economic/community development director, led a session in Henry Miller Park.

GUSTINE - Community members of all ages and interests recently had the opportunity to offer their input to city officials on what amenities they would like in local parks - with a focus on Henry Miller and Pioneer parks.

Jami Westervelt, the city’s director of economic/community development, said the feedback from the public will be incorporated into an application for Proposition 68 grant funding for park improvements.

Westervelt said a number of informal meetings were held to discuss park improvements, and she also visited a meeting of the Gustine Seniors to get input from club members.

The grant program is highly competitive, she cautioned, with no guarantee that Gustine’s application will be funded. But the community input, Westervelt said, bolsters the city’s case for success.

In addition to the grant application, Gustine will be getting about $200,000 in Prop. 68 funding which is based on a per-capita allocation, she noted. The community input will help guide City Council decisions on how to use that funding.

Westervelt said there was general consensus that Henry Miller was seen largely as an “event” park, hosting activities such as car shows, festas and other programs, while Pioneer Park, located on the city’s east side, was viewed as more of a neighborhood park.

Playground upgrades were a common theme addressed for both parks, Westervelt said, though with some aesthetic differences.

“They would tone down (colors) in Henry Miller in deference to community events, but in Pioneer Park they want to brighten it up,” she explained. “They definitely wanted to include red (in Pioneer), because it is the school color.”

Renovation of the pool in Miller Park, and addition of splash pads in both, were project ideas that had wide support.

“I thought the kids would really go for the skate park, but they said they wanted to pool,” Westervelt commented. “The pool was high on everyone’s list.”

One consideration, she added, was to renovate the pool so it would meet standards to host competitive swimming.

The addition of shade structures in both parks also had community support, Westervelt noted.

Other feedback for Henry Miller Park projects included an outdoor gym of sorts suitable for teens through seniors, and adding an athletic-type structure such as a climbing wall.

In Pioneer Park, the wish list included a full basketball court, which would be a first among the city’s parks, addition of a new barbecue/shelter facility, the addition of a concrete pad for games such as four-square and creation of an open space sidewalk chalk art gallery.

In addition to sharing their thoughts on what amenities each park should have and why, participants weighed in on park design.

In addition, Westervelt said, some ideas surfaced that would likely be better suited for Schmidt Park, such as a dog park and walking trails. Trails are already in the works.

“A lot of people were excited about that project,” Westervelt said.

The information garnered by the city will prove very useful, she predicted.

“We can guess what people want, but having an opportunity for them to tell us what it should look like and where it should be is valuable,” she concluded. “They are the ones who are going to use it. People use the parks in different ways.”