Putting park into gear
Lodi council OKs DeBenedetti Park master plan
After 30 years of stalled efforts, plans to move forward with DeBenedetti Park were approved by the Lodi City Council at the July 17 council meeting.
Many council members were looking forward to finishing the park project.
“I remember when we wanted to turn DeBenedetti into a 9-hole executive golf course. You have come a long way, baby, and I can’t wait to see the first shovel of dirt turned. Bring it on,” Councilman Bob Johnson said.
Ben Woodside of Callander Associates Landscape Architecture Inc. gave a presentation on the DeBenedetti Park master plan, highlighting new proposals for the project based on community feedback.
Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services staff compiled data from the open public forums and provided community surveys to design the park.
“The open house we held was well attended, as well as the responses received from community surveys,” Woodside said.
Parks staff received more than 700 surveys and had over 60 residents attend the planning meetings. According to the data compiled in surveys, the most prominent request made by community members was that the city add permanent restrooms to the park.
“The first phase of the plan will be to add restrooms,” Parks Director Jeff Hood said.
Plans for DeBenedetti Park will also include sites for children to play, exercise space, picnic areas, nature area, outdoor games, a boardwalk overlooking the fishing dock, bocce courts, a basketball court, and a ball field.
“The ballfield will have a skinned infield, a scorekeeper table, bleachers, a scoreboard and lighting,” Woodside said.
Community members who attended the meeting did have some questions.
“Can we expect the driving on the side of the road to be reduced?” Lodi resident Mike Lusk asked. “Because there are always cars parked on the shoulder of Lower Sacramento Road (turning right on to West Century Boulevard), which make it difficult to see cars if you are trying to turn right onto Lower Sacramento Road.”
There are plans to increase the number of parking spots to 299 by adding a parking lot to West Century Boulevard, which will also be part of the first phase of the plan.
Councilman Alan Nakanishi asked whether there was a way to reduce overnight loitering by unsheltered homeless individuals at the park.
“There is (crime prevention through environmental design), which is meant to keep people safe and discourage (the) homeless, and we look at all the individual elements and how it is grouped together and designed,” Woodside said.
Structural designs could be implemented to discourage homeless individuals from staying at the park as well, he said.
“The old way to do parks was to put playgrounds in the middle of the park, but putting the playgrounds next to the entryways will discourage homeless because there is a lot of activity at the entryways,” Woodside said. “On picnic shelters, we have added perforated steel roofs so it provides shade but does not protect against the rain, and we can put armrests in the benches so they are not comfortable to lay on.”
With a little over a million dollars collected in development impact fees, Hood anticipates the first phase of construction will begin as early as fall 2020.
“The project is expected to cost an estimated $14 million, but we will be doing the improvements in phases,” he said.
As new developments surround DeBenedetti, new prospects of funding have become available through developer impact fees, which the city will use to complete the park.
The most expensive part of the project is the lighting for the sports fields, which is expected to be part of the projects final phase.
Master plan design of DeBenedetti park, designed by Gold River-based architecture firm Callander Associates Landscape Architecture Inc.
Plans to move forward with DeBenedetti Park in Lodi, seen Friday, were approved Wednesday by the Lodi City Council.