Hollister City Council gave the go ahead on the the first review of an update on a long-term Parks Facility Master Plan at their recent meeting along with a detailed concept for an overhaul of Brigantino Park.
Officially, it was an approval of a mitigated negative declaration that relates to the environmental review, but in reality it was more about new council members getting to see the document for the first time.
Council members did not discuss specifics on funding, but there was broader talk on how such plans would likely come with a high price tag.
The city contracted with O’Dell Engineering to put together the parks master plan. With a relatively new council on board, the city introduced the plan and detailed plans for Brigantino Park, as it’s unofficially called, on the west side of town.
Two consultants, MIchael Madison and Matthew Morgan, honed in on the concept for that fairly large open space on San Juan Road entering Hollister. The ambitious concept for Brigantino Park’s future laid out ideas that include:
Some types of sports courts, a playground, a splash pad, a festival plaza for performances or events, a four-field softball complex, a dog park, a concessions restroom building, a bridge connection over San Benito River connecting to South Street, a soccer field, and a multi-use area where a soaring club currently flies its hobby planes two days a week.
That area also could be chalked for soccer games if needed. Additionally, the consultants said, the concept includes wildlife interpretive areas leading back to the San Benito River.
They recommended the city move ahead with a Phase 1 on the Brigantino Park plan that would include some pieces such as expanding the parking lot and putting in softball fields.
City planning officials are expected to bring back a more solidified plan, based on recommendations heard Monday, at a later meeting date.
One council member, Rolan Resendiz, said he would prefer seeing a more community-oriented project before the softball fields. Resendiz also said he would like to see more public art and culture included in the plans.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, meanwhile, said he would like to see somewhere for fishing included.
“One of the things missing in our community is a lake to go fishing,” Velazquez said.
Officials asked Recreation Supervisor Tina Garza to speak since she’s involved with softball organizations. She told council members a facility with four fields could draw a major tournament with 40-50 teams, and a downsized version could draw a smaller tournament.
Council members also heard from several local residents on the matter. Robin Pollard from the R.E.A.C.H. San Benito organization said a first step should be giving the park an official name. She also pointed out how most of the plans in a similar Park Hill master plan, which included an amphitheater, are still shelved 12 years later.
“It’s a great dream is all I can say,” she said.
Val Egland from R.E.A.C.H and resident Ruth Erickson both advocated for a skate park.
As for the broader master plan, much of the conversation centered around a proposal in the master plan to move the city from a goal of four park acres per thousand residents to five acres per thousand residents.
City planning official Mary Paxton said the 5-acre policy would put Hollister in line with Gilroy and Morgan Hill, and she mentioned how Los Banos goes by 7 acres per thousand residents in their policies.
Councilman Rolan Resendiz even pushed strongly for seven acres per thousand residents, while City Manager Bill Avera noted that going to seven acres as the standard won’t make up for the current deficiency, with the city currently at 2.19 acres of parkland per thousand residents, as Paxton reported.