Delays in the Mission City may end up benefiting local

Delays in the Mission City may end up benefiting local parks.

A year ago, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors approved spending $100,000 in state grant money to renovate the San Juan Bautista Community Center. But with county staff worried that work on the community center won’t be finished by the grant deadline, the supervisors recently agreed to divert the funds to Veterans Memorial Park and the County Historical Park.

“We have money there, and it doesn’t do us any good unless we spend it,” said Supervisor Anthony Botelho.

According to a report from the county public works department, all grant money must be spent by March 31 – and to make that happen, the project itself must be finished by the end of January. Unexpectedly high costs pushed the community center renovation’s completion date back to Jan. 31, which is too close to the deadline, according to the report. The grant money will now pay for playground equipment at county parks.

Botelho, who made the initial suggestion to spend county money on the community center, noted that the supervisors will still fund San Juan Bautista’s project. The money will just come from a different grant, he said.

“As I understand it, (the community center) is under construction as we speak,” Botelho said. “All in all, it’s going to work out just fine.”

Meanwhile, the county is rushing the parks projects to completion. The equipment will be installed between Jan. 21 and Jan. 25, according to the public works department.

Capital Projects Manager Theresa Yee said neither the historical park nor Veterans Memorial Park have any playground equipment now. The new historical park playground will be identical to equipment recently installed at John Z. Hernandez Park, she said, while equipment at Veterans Park will be aimed at older children and include several complicated climbing structures.

“Older kids get to have more fun things to play with,” Yee said.

Due to the compressed timeline, the county won’t solicit competitive bids. Instead, the county will ask Ross Playground Equipment to provide equipment. Yee said she’s heard good things from the company’s other clients, including the City of Hollister.

Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz said purchasing equipment similar to Hollister’s will also let the city and county cooperate on park maintenance and repair.

“How can we share resources?” De La Cruz said. “That’s what we need to be asking ourselves. After all, we serve the same stakeholders.”

He also described the park improvements as “baby steps” toward countywide improvements to local recreational facilities. Eventually, De La Cruz said he hopes to open a new park in Hollister – one much larger than any existing local facilities.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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