HANFORD — With four community-based planning meetings under its belt, the Hanford Parks and Community Services department is getting a clearer picture of what the community would like to see in a possible new 40-acre park in the city.
“I think we’re getting most of the segments of the community, so, so far so good,” director Brad Albert said before the fourth meeting Thursday evening.
The proposed 40-acre park project is part of an $8.5 million grant application through the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program to create new parks and new recreation opportunities in underserved communities across the state.
The city selected the possible park location east of the Florinda Street and 9 1/4 Avenue intersection, on the eastern boundary of Hanford’s current residential development. While the location is currently an orchard, there are plans to annex it into the city.
During the meetings, community members have been able to participate in the conceptual design of the park, as well as vote on potential recreational features and amenities.
A couple dozen community members attended the meeting on Thursday evening and Albert said the department has been able to talk to over 100 community members altogether.
Albert said the meetings have gone well so far and each has been a little different. He said the first meeting included Senior Citizens Inc. and ideas from the senior community, the second meeting included sports groups and the third meeting was a block party at the Kings View Apartments, which had more families and input from kids.
While getting kids to visualize an entire 40-acre park was interesting, Albert said it was very fun to see the kids get excited about new playgrounds and sports fields.
Albert said there has been a lot of support for jogging/walking paths and public art like murals and sculptures. He said there are also enthusiasts for a senior center, pickleball courts and Frisbee golf courses.
Theresa Dias, who has been in the health and fitness business since she was a kid and started the Hanford Pickleball group, has attended two of the community meetings.
“I just feel like it’s so important for us to have the facilities in our town for all age groups,” Dias said.
Dias said physical fitness is important for individuals, as well as the well-being of the entire community by bringing people together to stay fit and happy.
“If you can get out and not stay closed in, it makes you feel so much better,” she said “It’s all about building a healthy community.”
If the park is created, Dias believes it will put Hanford on the map and bring people from all over for events like sports tournaments, which will also help the city economically.
“It would be a plus for everybody — financially, health wise and fitness wise,” Dias said.
Dias gave kudos to Albert for organizing the meetings and encouraged community members to attend the last couple meetings and give their input.
All the input received in these meetings will drive the design of the new park. Albert said the department will take all the data and come up with a conceptual design. From there, cost estimates will be generated and then the final grant application will be submitted to the state in March.
“Then we cross our fingers for five months and hope we get it,” Albert said, adding there’s never a guarantee with a competitive grant like this.
If awarded, the grant will fund both the acquisition and development of the new park, which will be built in phases. The first phase would be what’s known as a “passive” park with a walking trail, playground and other amenities, while the second phase would be an “active” park with sports fields.
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