As reported by the Sacramento Bee, some long delayed park projects are getting done, and that is very good news, but only if they can be maintained well, for as we have seen in the dereliction of public safety and maintenance in the North Sacramento area of the Parkway over several decades, scanty maintenance attracted a large population (200-400) of illegal homeless campers who virtually destroyed the ability of the adjacent communities to safely use their area of the Parkway, but fortunately, the illegal campers are finally getting cleaned out, hopefully for good.
For years, faded signs have promised the residents of North Natomas that three lots mantled with dried grass and dirt would one day be turned into parks. Those promises are finally coming true.
At the other end of Sacramento, residents of a working-class neighborhood along Stockton Boulevard have fought for a decade to turn a field a few blocks from an elementary school into a park. By next fall, that effort should be complete.
And in Oak Park, one of the city’s more notorious parks, where drug dealers ruled for years, is getting a substantial makeover that includes a toddler play area, jogging track and new picnic grounds.
The work is being funded by $21 million pouring into Sacramento’s parks system over the next two years. It’s one of the most ambitious expansion and renovation efforts in recent memory for a network of green space that spans more than 3,000 acres at 222 parks.
Funding for the projects is coming from a diverse pot of money, including state grants and fees paid by developers.
Much of that funding has been available for years, but city officials held off on building new parks until money was available to fund maintenance staff needed to keep the parks clean. The city recently began shifting money from other projects into parks upkeep. The approval by voters last year of Measure U, a half-cent increase in the sales tax, also is providing a boost to the parks maintenance budget.
The list of projects reflects a broad spectrum, from the $50,000 renovation of a ball field in a small South Natomas park to next month’s scheduled opening of a $5.6 million youth baseball and softball complex at the sprawling North Natomas Regional Park.
The three new parks in North Natomas – Dogwood, Valley Oak and Wild Rose – will add 23 acres of parkland to an area of Sacramento where many residents have complained about poor city planning decisions made during the last housing boom. Even as hundreds of homes were built on the surrounding blocks and developer fees set aside for parks projects, plans for the parks were put on hold until Councilwoman Angelique Ashby redirected money collected from property-tax assessments on area homeowners from transportation and utilities work to parks maintenance.