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Guest view: Regional Park is a sign of progress

San Benito County supervisors have tackled many profound challenges in the past year and a half since I joined the board with other first-term colleagues. 

Some of those immense undertakings include boldly responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, assisting businesses and nonprofits through the pandemic with significant financial assistance, investing tens of millions of dollars in upcoming road improvements, approving new policies to help create jobs such as the historic tax-sharing agreement with Hollister that will spur economic growth around the city’s borders, working to expand the library, finding solutions to the homelessness crisis and many other complex issues. 

But one of the most profoundly impactful endeavors yet by this county board—which residents will enjoy for generations to come—is following through on the work of prior leaders by moving forward in developing the long-envisioned Riverview Regional Park. 

This is much more than your standard park. It will become a signature community amenity, a gathering place with an eclectic and exciting mix of attractions chosen by supervisors based on feedback from local residents. 

Some of those chosen attractions include an adventure playground, picnic areas, exercise stations, pickleball courts, basketball courts, trails, a cross country course, a bicycle pump track, public art, learning gardens, a geology exploration zone, disc golf, a remote control car track, an amphitheater and soccer field. 

We as a county have set aside millions of dollars to get this project off the ground, and I am very optimistic the county will do what it takes to gradually fund the entire $9 million cost for at least most of the chosen amenities. Officials have prioritized the Regional Park in the county’s pursuit of outside grant dollars—while hiring a professional grant writer and legislative lobbyist to assist—which can help fund most of the remaining costs. 

The goal is to eventually connect a 20-mile river parkway along the San Benito River and Tres Pinos Creek—with the Regional Park as a central hub. 

The groundbreaking ceremony at the project site July 1 was symbolic in that we’re moving forward, and it sends a message to our community that this wonderful asset is on the way. The event kicked off the project’s first significant phase, a necessary parking lot mostly funded with state funds obtained by Assemblyman Robert Rivas, whose support is much appreciated. 

There were current and past county officials, park advocates and other project supporters in attendance. It’s important to emphasize this decade-plus vision has involved a plethora of backers such as prior supervisors, past and current parks and recreation commissioners, park advocates and many others. It has been, and will continue to be, a product of collaboration. 

When I was appointed to the county board’s Regional Park Ad Hoc Committee in 2021, one of my first major tasks as a supervisor was to work alongside Supervisor Peter Hernandez to negotiate with the San Benito High School District for the county to obtain land next to River Parkway to develop the park. At the time, there hadn’t been much movement to make it a reality. With cooperation from the district and help from county staff, we pressed ahead and got a deal done within months, opening the door for the project to proceed. Thank you to district leaders for understanding the benefit and agreeing to a 99-year lease while we inevitably work toward a permanent arrangement. 

Andres Rodriguez of Assemblymember Robert Rivas’ office, San Benito County Supervisors Betsy Dirks, Kollin Kosmicki, Peter Hernandez and Bob Tiffany, and Valerie Egland of San Benito County REACH break ground together on July 1 for the Riverview Regional Park. Photo: Michael Moore

As I said at the groundbreaking ceremony, this project is proof real progress is possible when we work together to pursue common goals. The Regional Park will not only draw outside visitors to our community. Most importantly, it will benefit local families for generations to come while adding a signature amenity to this community’s identity. 

Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki represents District 2 on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors.