Neighborhood meeting sparks ideas for McCarthy Park

There’s a pleasant chirp in the air about McCarthy Street Park these days.

At San Andreas Continuation High School neighboring the park Wednesday, about 20 local residents met with community organizers and leaders for an hour-long brainstorming session on ways to make over the largely dilapidated public space.

Locals held the meeting with hopes of kick-starting a rehabilitation of the park. Many other Hollister parks have received numerous repairs and installations in the past few years, but the council hasn’t given much attention to the McCarthy venue catering to a diverse demographic behind Lucky supermarket.

Neighborhood resident Mike Smith presided over the meeting with Councilman Ray Friend, who represents that district of Hollister, and with volunteer help from architect David Huboi in leading the design charrette, as it’s called.

City parks official Mike Chambless was also at the meeting and infused excitement in the room when he mentioned there is $1.4 million in potential park dollars available, through an application for a grant, for such rehab work. Chambless cautioned that it’s just an application and wouldn’t want to get hopes up.

He also got the crowd’s attention when he responded to talk about putting in a stage, for which Smith advocated as a venue for community concerts, by noting that the city already owns a portable stage it has used for various events.

“So now we didn’t spend any money,” replied Smith regarding the stage idea.

“A portable stage would be perfect,” added local artist Rolan Resendiz, who’s with First 5 San Benito.

Reflecting the civil exchanges in the room, Huboi pointed out how a permanent stage would add benefits, too.

Resendiz in the discussion emphasized that the planning should take into account a diverse background of users.

“Especially younger children need somewhere to go and play and for them to be inspired—everybody wants to feel welcomed,” he said. “We have such a wide spectrum of people that live here, and I think we should create venues for all of them.”

Suggestions from the group at the brainstorming meeting, and similarly scheduled follow-up gatherings, will go with recommendations made by San Andreas students as well.

At Wednesday’s kickoff, Huboi presented an aerial sketch of the park site with its seating, basketball court and playground area. He said the planning process would have to involve considering environmental issues such as noise, sun and wind so they can be mitigated. He also suggested the group should consider whether they want fencing and he said parking would have to be a major consideration.

Chambless in the talk said the city had discussed possibly considering such ideas as racquetball courts, basketball courts, and an exercise area with stations spanning from McCarthy to Park Hill.

Smith in keeping the discussion to about an hour also pointed out that despite the fact that it’s a city park, it’s possible to explore whether the county might want any involvement. Smith is a county parks commissioner, but any sort of county funding would need supervisors’ approval.

To offer input to Councilman Friend, email him at [email protected]

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