GREENFIELD — Greenfield City Council members approved the formation of an application committee for Prop 68 funds during their Sept. 8 meeting.
The fourth round of grant applications for the statewide park program has a total of $395.3 million available to local agencies looking to create new parks within their cities.
Third-round awards totaled $254.9 million, of which the City of Soledad secured $7.6 million for its Metz/Orchard Park.
Greenfield’s park plans centered around the intersection of 12th Street and Elm Avenue, in a lot that is across the street from Vista Verde Middle School. The plans are for a park and recreation hall, with future potential to expand services and include an aquatic center.
The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 14, which means the committee would have little time to organize workshops and organize surveys for community input, which is integral to the application’s success. In addition to members of the public, the committee is set to include two city council members.
Last year Greenfield applied for the round three’s funding with a planned expansion of the park at Third Street and Apple Avenue, near Cesar Chavez Elementary School. The city was unsuccessful in obtaining grant approval, but took what they learned in the process to use this year.
“We’ve been doing research with the help of community members and staff,” said Jesus Perez, the city’s recreation coordinator. “We decided that the location on 12th and Elm is perfect for a new park project with a rec center. An aquatic center is also something we want to do. We want to work with this in phases.”
Perez said the first phase of the project would be to create the new park and recreation center, which would include a gymnasium.
“We’ve also been working on getting permission from the school district to use the Vista Verde parking lot and grass area to do our community planning meetings,” Perez said. “It’s very important to get all the community involved in this.”
He said the state selects cities and their projects based on a points system.
One part of the points system is taking area household income and park acreage per resident into account, with the location being a determining factor in how many points are earned with those metrics. The second part of the points system is based on the public feedback and engagement leading up to the application process.
“They really want to see this is something the community is asking for,” Perez said. “So it’s very important that when we do these workshops, that we get a huge turnout … that we can prove to the state that this is something the community needs.”
Points can be reduced for low workshop attendance.
“Let’s say we do workshops and nobody shows up, we get a couple people but not as many as other cities, that is something they look at,” Perez explained. “If we don’t organize these workshops in a way that we get a large attendance or a lot of feedback through surveys, for example, we get less points than the maximum points.”
As for the location, the city specifically shifted plans to the city’s south end on 12th Street and Elm Avenue rather than continue with the update plans at Third Street and Apple Avenue.
“The state likes seeing that cities want to invest in new parks, especially in locations that meet those two requirements,” Perez said. “When picking this location, we get the maximum points. If we would have chosen Third and Apple, we would have gotten less points because it’s an expansion and not a new park project.”
Mayor Lance Walker asked about other locations, such as across from City Hall, while Mayor Pro Tem Yanely Martinez brought up concerns over the potential parking situation impacting the nearby senior center near Vista Verde.
Perez reiterated that the selected location scores the highest for location points, so to increase the city’s chances of obtaining grant approval and securing the funds, they should move ahead with it.
“That’s the only location that would make sense, that would make us competitive for this grant,” Perez said.
With the council’s approval, the committee process will get underway and the city will work toward obtaining community engagement in the process.
“We’re excited to get this going and get those community meetings kicked off,” Perez said. “I’m working on a flier for two dates in September.”
Perez noted he would like to see the first meeting happen as early as Sept. 19.
“We’re going to hopefully be out there and hopefully see a lot of the community,” he said. “Let us know what you want to see in this park. Let us know what it is that you’d like to see inside this recreation center that is long overdue here in Greenfield.”