Aromas finally gets its park

Aromas residents proved they were a community to be reckoned
with Wednesday when the Monterey County Planning Commission voted
to approve the long-awaited A.R. Wilson Quarry Park.
Aromas residents proved they were a community to be reckoned with Wednesday when the Monterey County Planning Commission voted to approve the long-awaited A.R. Wilson Quarry Park.

About 50 residents cheered when the commission cast the 10-0 vote.

“There was a lot of emotion,” said Eric Van Dyke, secretary of the nonprofit Aromas Community Center Foundation.

Aromas resident Richard Saxe said it was a special day for Aromas, crediting the community’s show of support as the driving force behind the commission’s approval.

“The town turned out and stepped up to the plate for the kids,” he said. “The citizens of Aromas jumped into gear.”

The 18-acre park off Aromas Road has been a center of debate for 12 years. The foundation has raised money from grants, donations and fundraisers to purchase the land. So far, $300,000 has gone into the project.

The park will include two soccer fields, two softball fields, rest rooms and a snack shack.

The application last went before the commission in 1998 when the Aromas Eagles’ nonprofit group proposal to build a community center triggered opposition from a handful of neighbors.

“A group of them were up in arms about it so they (the Eagles) pulled it off the table,” Saxe said.

Saxe said foundation president Bruce Weldon has worked on the project for more than a decade and will continue to see the project through completion as well as handle the grant writing.

“He will be getting the money to finish the park,” Saxe said.

After three hours of presentations, discussions and satisfying the commission’s questions, planning staff recommended approval of the use permit with 37 conditions, including limiting the amount of water that can be used to water the grass.

Caltrans claimed that the park would affect traffic at the intersection of San Juan Road and U.S. 101. But the commission did not agree.

“If we’re building a park so parents don’t have to drive to other areas, then parents are significantly decreasing the traffic impacts,” Van Dyke said.

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