Hanford is applying for an $8.5 million state grant to purchase land for a new city park. The plan is to and partially develop a 43-acre parcel of land behind the bowling alley on East Lacey Boulevard or another site at 9 ¼ and Florinda, said the parks director.
The city council recently told Parks and Recreation Director Bradley Albert to apply for the money which is part of $395 million in Proposition 68 money passed by statewide voters in 2018.
“They want new parks in disadvantaged areas,” said Albert who has until December 14 to submit the city’s grant application.
Prior to sending the application the city is required to hold live community meetings to get the public’s views on the proposed parks.
The city will be competing for the money with other cities and governmental entities and non-profits involved in parks, said Albert.
Even if the city was successful in getting the $8.5 million grant, the amount would not be enough to build a park in its entirety, said Albert. A new park would have to be built in phases, he said.Land acquisition alone for the Lacey property would be more than $1 million, said Albert.
Maintenance for a 40-acre park would be $200,000 – $300,000 per year, he said.
The city’s move comes at a time when a long-simmering controversy over finishing Hidden Valley Park in North Hanford is comes to a head. The issue involves the 18 undeveloped acres next to and west of the existing Hidden Valley Park at 11th and Cortner.
Although a majority of those polled in a city-funded poll said in 2019 that they wanted the property preserved for Hidden Valley Park expansion, Mayor John Draxler, Councilperson Sue Sorensen—whose district includes Hidden Valley—and Martin Devine have dismissed the poll and said at a recent council meeting that they want to sell the 18 acres.
The city would receive in excess of $1 million for the property, according to Darrel Pyle, the former city manager.
A citizens’ ballot initiative is underway to preserve the property for future park development. Saveourparkland93230 needs 2,693 signatures of registered voters by October 29 to get the measure on the ballot. If the initiative is successful, the matter would have to be voted on after the November election.
The undeveloped portion of Hidden Valley Park, which was previously zoned for public facilities, has been declared surplus and now zoned for low-density residential development. The citizens initiative would ask residents of Hanford if they want to revert the 18 acres back to parkland.
Albert said an expansion of Hidden Valley would not be eligible for Prop 68 money because it doesn’t meet state requirements involving the amount of nearby park acreage and income limits per capita.
Although Hidden Valley is used by residents of all income levels, the area near the park is more affluent than other areas of Hanford.
The city does have about $3 million in park impact fees provided by developers and that presumably could be used to help pay for any new park space next to Hidden Valley or elsewhere, said Albert.