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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 10:46 am | Partly Cloudy 59º


Goleta City Council Tweaks Final Design for Old Town Neighborhood Park

Council members ask for larger skate park, drought-tolerant landscaping and bike-path changes before giving final OK

The undeveloped site of the future neighborhood park was purchased by Goleta’s now-defunct redevelopment agency after seeing a need for recreation in Old Town.
The undeveloped site of the future neighborhood park was purchased by Goleta’s now-defunct redevelopment agency after seeing a need for recreation in Old Town.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk file photo)

Goleta residents got a glimpse at the final design of a new Old Town neighborhood park Tuesday, but city officials want to tweak some aspects before giving approval.

Goleta City Council liked the overall layout but mainly worried the plans — held up while more water-wise plants could be added during drought — wouldn’t provide enough toilets in restrooms or account adequately for the future.

The park is slated to go into a four-acre site at Hollister and Kellogg avenues, a vacant parcel the city’s now-defunct redevelopment agency bought in 2011 after seeing a need for a recreation area in that part of the community.

Goleta began the park planning process in early 2012 — hiring Van Atta Associates Landscape Architects to design and conduct public outreach — but new water restrictions imposed by the Goleta Water District in October 2014 prompted some Parks and Recreation Commissioners revisions.

The design City Council unanimously voted to punt to a future meeting for approval included a larger skateboard plaza of 5,000 square feet, additional multi-use hard courts (for use including bocce and hand ball) and more drought-tolerant species of plants and trees.

The park will also feature a multipurpose field, basketball court, playground, restrooms (two stalls each for men and women, for now) and a 22-space parking lot.

Goleta’s Parks and Recreation Commission approved the revised water-wise design in May with some conditions, including adding a bike path connecting the parking lot to the eastern San Jose Creek Bike Path and fencing around the perimeter of the Sister Witness Tree’s root zone to prevent soil compaction and to provide some level of protection.

The initial park design would’ve required 6.4 acre feet of water per year, but the Goleta Water District says the new maximum water allowance is 4.62 acre feet per year.

The proposed plans include a skate park, shown here in a city rendering, basketball courts, multipurpose field, playground, restrooms and other amenities. Click to view larger
The proposed plans include a skate park, shown here in a city rendering, basketball courts, multipurpose field, playground, restrooms and other amenities. (City of Goleta photo)

Councilman Michael Bennett suggested staff keep plans for a splash pad despite the drought by giving the water district a way to lock and shut it down.

A splash pad shoots out recycled water, Bennett said, noting how many kids were in favor of the amenity.

“As we continue to encourage our community to get rid of lawns and things … then I think it’s really incumbent that the public agency takes on the responsibility,” he said.

“I think it’s a bigger picture item.”

His concern about having big enough restrooms was shared by other officials, who also liked his suggestion to enlarge a storage room for athletic equipment like basketballs.

Planners said the intent was to serve the neighborhood kids — not to be a regional draw — but staff agreed to double-check the restroom formula.

A walking path will meander around the perimeter of the site, and officials asked to relocate a bike path to the west side of a rare Sister Witness Tree instead of the east.

“We’ve been talking about this park for a long time,” Mayor Paula Perotte said. “It’s exciting.”

She made sure staff looked into providing safe passage across the busy streets into the park with pedestrian traffic signals, which will be part of a separate project and not overall park design.

Local skateboarders — many of them teenagers — dominated public comment asking for a slightly larger skate plaza while showing appreciation for its inclusion.

“This isn’t intended to be the only skate park in the community of Goleta,” Bennett said, noting discussions to put a larger one on the city’s west end.

Seeing no rush, Councilman Roger Aceves asked staff to make the tweaks before coming back for final approval in two to three months.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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