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January 23, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, January 23, 2004

City considers new park City considers new park (January 23, 2004)

Del Medio neighborhood most likely site

By Julie O'Shea

City Council members expressed concern during a study session Tuesday that it was taking way too long to secure a sizable piece of land for a new park.

"It's a source of incredible frustration. To me, we have to be a little more creative and aggressive with this," Council member Rosemary Stasek said. "I mean, we can't just beam the land down."

The city plans to host a series of neighborhood meetings to raise awareness about the situation and to see if the public has any feasible solutions. Dates for these community meetings have not been set yet. Money for a new park would come from grants and restrictive bond funding that voters approved in 2000 and 2002. Currently, the total amount available is around $5 million.

Staffers have identified four areas -- the Del Medio neighborhood, the Ortega area, the Wyandotte/Reinert neighborhood and the area north of California Street near Central Expressway -- as places in the community that are in desperate need of a park.

However, since there is little or no money available for the Ortega and Wyandotte/Reinert neighborhoods, staffers have been pouring their energy into the other two sites. With $1.98 million available to it, the Del Medio site has been particularly attractive to the council.

But city staffers told council this week that they are still having trouble finding a parcel big enough to build a park. In 1997, the Parks and Recreation Commission identified standards for a new park: land that is at least a half an acre and property that is undeveloped or vacant and accessible to the public.

Lori Topley, a senior administrative analyst for the city, said she had written letters to a few owners of properties in the areas identified as needing a park and asked them if they'd be willing to sell their land to the city.

Property owners who did show an interest in selling, however, wanted more money than the city was willing to give, Topley said.

"I am frustrated that we have been chasing that particular tail for a long time and not catching up with it," Council member Nick Galiotto said. "I think we need to be more aggressive getting Del Medio. The other sites are important, too, but we haven't been chasing them as long."

After the council nails down a spot, the city must then get approval from the state for the specific park the funds will be used on, the staff report said.

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