Community Park Planning: Meeting at John F. Kennedy High School garnered residents’ input

by Leigh Stephens

Parks nourish our spirits! Walking through glorious trees, sitting on comforting grass, taking that toddler to the playground on a sunny or overcast day, taking a run or walk by the rivers, unpacking that luscious picnic lunch…Our lives are enriched daily by the city and regional parks in our community.

A recent community meeting at Kennedy High Auditorium found Sacramento Vice Mayor Rick Jennings, II explaining the Park Project Planning Guide (PPPG) to his District 7 constituents. Jennings introduced the PPPG
and City Supervising Landscape Architect Gary Hyden who then led the meeting. City Landscape Architect Dennis Day and Parks and Recreation Department Senior Planner Raymond Costantino attended the meeting and also gave input.

Jennings and Hyden both explained that the purpose of the PPPG is to get community input for future planning for all the components of the parks.
The PPPG is a prioritized list of unfunded new parks and recreation capital projects throughout the City.  The process allows staff to identify and prioritize needs, align funding with those needs, and deliver projects within a reasonable time frame.

This planning involves a complex mix of government agencies and citizens
cooperating to update existing and bring future parks into reality. The Parks and Recreation Department is funded primarily through special revenue sources:
Park Development Impact Fees;
The 1975 Quimby Act that authorizes the legislative body of a city or county to require the dedication of land or to impose fees for park or recreational purposes as a condition of the approval of a tentative or parcel subdivision map;
The California Land Park Fund, which allows for the conservation of water and parks;
Federal Transportation Development grants;
State and Federal Capital grants; and
Private and foundation grants or gifts.

Gary Hyden said, “It’s very important to do what the community wants!
District 7 neighbors asked questions about such things as the ongoing park turf vs. vole battle to rid park turf of the pesty, hole-digging rodents.

According to Hyden the voles have already won: “Unfortunately, we’re never going to get rid of them!”

Others asked about community gardens, which are a “hot” topic in today’s nutrition-conscious neighborhoods. According to the Sacramento City Parks and Recreation website, parks include approximately 357 community gardens not including plots that combine common areas and fruit tree orchards.

Vice Mayor Jennings says he always listens to the kids.  “When they complain about the basketball hoops falling down or wanting a pickleball court or a water fountain, I listen!”

If you’re wondering what pickleball is, it’s a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and with a slightly modified tennis net. Players use a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.

Speaking of requests, Hyden reminded community members, “We have to match our workload with the staff who provide the core work. Because of funding, nothing will happen from a year to a year and a half.  When construction is involved, it can take between three months to two years.”

Official approval also takes a hefty length of time.

The PPPGuide includes the “Sandbox Survey,” which asks input from individuals and community groups.  The survey asks what category the proposed project falls under: neighborhood and community parks, community facilities, or regional parks and parkways.

It also asks for a description of how the proposed project will meet the needs in the community and a description of public priority or site significance. It asks for any project cost offsets or partnerships, and if  an acquisition project, what is the availability and proposed suitability for active or passive recreational use.  Additional considerations involve public use of the project and whether it is in an economically disadvantaged area.

You can get an online copy of the survey form from the City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation, “2016 PPPG, Process Overview and Criteria.” This includes all City Districts.

If you, your neighbors, or organizations have requests for park development, submit a copy as soon as possible because the Deadline for the form submission is January 31, 2017. Send to Parks and Recreation Senior Planner Raymond Costantino at City Hall (915 “I” Street, 3rd Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814).

For more information contact City Supervising Landscape Architect Gary Hyden ghyden@cityofsacramento.org or Community Affairs Director Casanya Ursery in the office of Vice Mayor Rick Jennings  rjennings@cityofsacramento.org.

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