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KINGSBURG – Four parks could possibly see improvements if the City of Kingsburg is awarding any Prop 68 funds from the State of California. The city is also hoping to secure grant fund for an entirely new regional sports complex as well.

California Proposition 68 is the Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access For All Act that was approved in 2018.

The State will distribute $650 million dollars throughout municipalities across California. Projects must involve either the development of a new park, expansion of an existing park, or renovation of an existing park. The city could receive multiple grant awards totaling more than $8.5 million

Based on recommendations from Kingsburg’s Community Services Commission, the City will apply to make improvements to Athwal, Heritage, Bicentennial and the Dog Park or at a new regional sports park.

In order to meet the requirements for the grant process, though, public input was needed to see what features residents would like to see installed at each park. The last of the meetings were Friday, July 12.

“We have to finish applying for all the grants by Aug. 5 so we have a quick turnaround time on getting these applications in,” Administrative Services Director Christina Windover said. She conducted the sessions at Athwal Park where input was taken for that and the Dog Park. Meanwhile, Community Services Commission Director Adam Castaneda took input on Bicentennial and Heritage parks at Heritage.

Among the top suggestions were shade, play structures, shade, amenities for barbecuing and more shade.

“We’ve seen a lot of wishes for a walking loop, a place to rent for picnics, restrooms sooner than later.

Residents who live nearby have asked for lighting to make sure it’s safe,” Windover said of Athwal. That park just kicked off construction of a first phase of improvements where a skate park, fitness facility and play structure will be added.

“In general, people are wanting to see shade structures, lots of trees and landscaping to maintain the aesthetic. For the Dog Park, some drip irrigation has been installed, so residents have asked for grass, irrigation, a paved walking perimeter and more shade,” she said.

Other suggestions included adding Americans with Disabilities Act and wheelchair-friendly surfaces and wide walking tracks around the perimeter of parks.

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Among Kingsburg residents who came to give input were members of the Jost family where parent Tiffany Jost had brought Addison, Nicholas and Ezra Jost to share their ideas. They’ve lived on Avenue D for a decade and say there’s little for the children to do right in their neighborhood.

“A long time ago, they’d tried to do this and we came to some meetings, but it just didn’t go anywhere,” Tiffany Jost said. “We’ve gone to Coffee Pot [Park], which is fun but it’s smaller. It’s limited when you can play there because the slides will burn [the children]. We’ve been really disappointed since we’ve lived in this neighborhood that there hasn’t been anywhere for the kids to play. So as soon as I saw it was actually going to go somewhere this time, I wanted to make sure we came down. The kids are old enough now where they can put in their ideas.”

Addison Jost shared an idea to have Kingsburg-themed play structures installed.

“What if they had a mini-coffee pot with the middle hollowed out so you could slide down a slide?” Later, she also suggested having rideable Dala horses in children’s play areas.

“Who doesn’t love to ride Dala horses?”

When asked what he wanted to do more when visiting a park, Ezra Jost had just one idea in mind.

“I like to play at the playground.”

Paved walking trails, splash pads, rock-climbing walls, water features, a botanical garden were some of the suggestions for Athwal Park.

For the dog park, the Nicholas Jost had the idea of adding agility or play equipment and splash pads for visiting dogs and others shared ideas such as installing waste dispensers with biodegradable bags, shade and more seating.

After Windover compiled everyone’s ideas, attendees then placed stickers by their top five favored amenities for each park.

Once the grants are applied for, the City will await to hear back from the State by the end of 2019 as to which grants have been approved and the dollar amounts.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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