Putting park into gear

Lodi coun­cil OKs DeBenedett­i Park mas­ter plan

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Oula Miq­bel NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

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.

COUR­TESY OF LODI PARKS, RE­CRE­ATION AND CUL­TURAL SER­VICES STAFF

Mas­ter plan de­sign of DeBenedett­i park, de­signed by Gold River-based ar­chi­tec­ture firm Cal­lan­der As­so­ciates Land­scape Ar­chi­tec­ture Inc.

NEWS-SEN­TINEL PHOTOGRAPH­S BY BEA AH­BECK

Plans to move for­ward with DeBenedett­i Park in Lodi, seen Fri­day, were ap­proved Wed­nes­day by the Lodi City Coun­cil.

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