Parks get playful with new structures

Easton Gamboa, 1, plays with the new tire flooring as part of the new play structure at Las Brisas Park Feb. 24.

Shaun Savage hugged a soccer ball to his chest and attempted the gargantuan task of climbing the stairs to a giant slide on tiny legs.
“I got you. I got you,” Savage, 3, told the ball.
The toddler climbed the new slide at Hollister’s Las Brisas Park on Monday thanks to $392,359 in municipal and grant funds adding new playground equipment to four parks.
Most of the improvements planned for the park on the busy corner of Clearview and Nez Perce drives are already in place and include a seven-foot-tall banana-yellow slide, eight-foot-tall climbing rocks and an entirely new play structure.
In early December, council members allocated $140,000 in park funds toward new playground equipment at Las Brisas, Park Hill and Jerry Gabe Memorial parks so the city would be eligible for grant money from a manufacturer company. Earlier this month, they unanimously approved spending $150,000 to improve Valley View Park, known by locals as the “Whale Park” because of its water feature.
The push for upgrades at city parks started after a playground was vandalized and Mike Chambless, the city’s management services director, learned he couldn’t order new parts for the 25-year-old structure. In the process of replacing the equipment, Chambless discovered the playground manufacturer company Game Time offers grants. The city applied for funding and received an offer for $102,359 with a requirement that Hollister match the funds.
Among the trio of parks receiving playground equipment because of grant and city money, the structure planned for Park Hill will be the most elaborate but construction won’t start until after the motorcycle rally, Chambless said.
“It’s basically a giant fort,” he said. “It’s a two-story fort structure that’s just amazing.”
The hope is that adding new playground equipment to a site that has been without a structure for several years will help revitalize an area largely defined by its homeless population.
Another park that will be receive some attention thanks to the influx in grant and city funding is the Jerry Gabe Memorial Park. The structure is already stored in Hollister and will be installed before April, Chambless said.
Work at the Whale Park is being funded only with city money to the tune of $150,000. The site will receive new playground equipment along with a half-court basketball area that was in the plans for the original park, “but the project ran short of funds so that never got built,” Chambless said.
“The other day we were talking about refurbishing the whale and I was there when the park got built and I was aware it was never fully built so I was like ‘Hey, let’s finish the park,’ ” said Chambless with a laugh.
In the process of fixing the park, the deck beneath the whale will be replaced and a new rubber coating will be put on top, Chambless said. A new play structure is arriving in about a month, he said.
“It’s got three slides, a tube to crawl through and some climbing stuff,” Chambless said.
At Las Brisas Park, the new playground is already in place along with climbing rocks that resemble the county’s Pinnacles National Park formations.
“I was out there right when we finished and took the fences down. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Chambless said. “Literally, when the fences came down, about 30 kids materialized and were all over that thing.”
As toddler Shaun Savage tackled the shiny new slide Monday, Alfred Eddings, 63, watched his grandson play.
“This is nice. It’s challenging,” Eddings said. “I think it’s really good for them to build their strength and balance.”

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