MODESTO, Calif. — With a new water park, skate plaza and soccer field on the horizon, a beloved park in West Modesto is about to get some major upgrades.
Cesar Chavez Park landed an $8.5 million grant for upgrades. It's not an everyday amount of money to suddenly find yourself with, and there’s plenty of excitement to go around within the walls of Modesto City Hall.
"You can tell from hearing me talk about it, I'm so excited," said Laurie Smith, Modesto's Parks and Recreation Director.
Smith said Modesto has been making tough choices over the years with general fund money, and, like many communities, the city made hard choices that hit some its parks' infrastructure and playground impact equipment.
The upgrades to Chavez Park is going to be a boon for West Modesto. The community recently learned that the Municipal Golf Course in their area will eventually be closing, with an uncertain future for the land.
With Chavez Park, Smith says it isn't short on love from the community, but it could definitely use the upgrades from the grant money.
"The people who live in that area… love it as well and make use of what’s available, but it definitely can be improved," said Smith.
With $8.5 million at the ready, the new park design is far from basic. It was the result of a series of meetings and was designed in part by the very people who will be using it.
Modesto gets $8.5 million for major Cesar Chavez Park upgrades
The biggest upgrade for Chavez Park is the new aquatic center and water park, complete with small slides and a splash pad.
"The water features that they’re proposing are not little water features. The pool is not a kiddie pool. This is like small water park type features," said Modesto spokesperson Thomas Reeves.
Add in the new picnic area, soccer field, skate plaza, walking paths, fitness stations, replacement basketball courts, two new rooms for the Maddux Youth Center, and an event stage area, and you have the new Chavez Park.
However, smaller details weren’t ignored for the big additions. If you’re not happy with the current restrooms at Chavez Park, you’ll be happy to know that they’re getting replaced with new ones.
"That's a really big deal," Smith said. "I don't know if you’ve ever tried to go to a park bathroom, but, when it doesn’t work or it’s not open or it looks terrible, that's really discouraging."
While the grant funding gives the park a boost, it doesn’t remedy all the money issues for maintenance.
Some the park features will have a revenue source built in to help maintain them, meaning you’ll have to pay to use them. The water park is one of those pay-to-use features.
"There are other things we’re looking at in terms of helping to fund raise to support parks because… you can build it, but if you can’t maintain it, it becomes almost a waste of time," said Smith.
The millions in grant money is a big win for Modesto and the community surrounding Chavez Park. The proposal went up against 478 others to be one of the 62 awarded money. On top of that, Modesto is one of only nine cities to get the maximum award.
The City expects construction on the park to start by the summer of 2021 and to hand over the new park by spring of 2022.
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