San Benito County officials, legislative representatives and local parks and recreation enthusiasts celebrated more than a decade of collaboration and the development of a valuable community amenity July 1 at the groundbreaking of the Riverview Regional Park.
Phase 1 of the park’s construction will begin this summer with a new 93-space parking lot along River Parkway on the south side of the Hollister High School campus. The lot will also include five food truck parking stalls, according to county officials.
The total cost of construction of phase 1 is about $1.1 million, funded mostly by an allocation of $750,000 last year from the state budget. That sum was procured by District 30 Assemblymember Robert Rivas.
The remainder of the funding for phase 1 comes from the county’s park development fund, which is financed by fees from developers. Construction is expected to be finished by September.
In comments before about 50 attendees at the July 1 groundbreaking, supervisors thanked the many parties and jurisdictions who worked together to bring the regional park to reality—including Rivas, the San Benito High School District, City of Hollister and members of the public who offered valuable input.
“What you’re seeing here is the outcome of a lot of collaboration and work and, ultimately, love for the community,” San Benito County Board of Supervisors Chair Peter Hernandez said.
Planning for the regional park began in 2012, and will be built in three phases. The park is planned on 70 acres of vacant property along the San Benito River. Last year, the county and SBHS district signed a 99-year lease for a 48-acre portion of the site that is owned by the district, giving the county the ability to develop the park over the coming years. The county owns the other 22 acres.
A wide variety of amenities and features are planned for the new regional park, the development of which will cost a total of $9 million. Phase 2 will include a playground, picnic areas, exercise stations, multi-use sports courts including for pickleball and basketball, cross country course, bicycle pump track, skating area, astronomy viewing platform, interpretive signs, public art and more.
The county hopes to acquire grants for phase 2B, which will include public restrooms, Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki said.
Phase 3, which will cost about $3 million, will include community gardens, a geology exploration zone, disc golf, amphitheater, remote controlled car track, softball field and concession stands.
Long-term plans also include a 20-mile trail along the San Benito River and Tres Pinos Creek, “with the Regional Park as a central hub,” Kosmicki said.
Phases 2 and 3 are currently unfunded. The county plans to apply for at least $3 million in state parks grants to help finance the regional park construction over the coming years.
Kosmicki—who sat on a Regional Park ad hoc supervisors committee with Hernandez—said about 300 county residents submitted input for the park’s plans. He said the July 1 groundbreaking was a “symbolic” event.
“This project is proof that real progress is possible when we work together and find common goals to pursue,” Kosmicki said. “This will be a draw for outside tourism…(but) first and foremost this park is here to benefit our residents and families, to create memories for generations of our residents and to add that signature amenity to the identity of this wonderful community.”
Andres Rodriguez, a spokesperson for Rivas, said the Regional Park represents a recognition of the value of outdoor parks and recreation spaces.
“This park has been a vision for a lot of years now. With this groundbreaking, we want to make sure we continue advocating for public parks and public spaces,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what’s going to keep people here in the community.”