Council approves new parks

GILROY
– After a brief debate over the benefits of lighted basketball
courts and some reassurances about the safety of nouveau playground
structures, City Council signed off Monday on designs for two
long-awaited community parks in northwest Gilroy.
GILROY – After a brief debate over the benefits of lighted basketball courts and some reassurances about the safety of nouveau playground structures, City Council signed off Monday on designs for two long-awaited community parks in northwest Gilroy.

Council unanimously approved draft master plan maps for the roughly two-acre Los Arroyos Park, at Hirisaki Avenue and Moro Drive near Mt. Madonna High School, and the roughly three-acre Carriage Hills Park, located at Valley Oak Court and Cresthill Way.

Overall, Council seemed pleased with the designs, but briefly debated the pros and cons of installing lights on a basketball court proposed for the Carriage Hills facility.

Councilman Peter Arellano suggested the city install the lights, noting that he’d heard from several area families that wanted them.

Arellano said a lighted court with a timer could offer older children a place to play in the late evening while keeping them out of the roadway. Because yards are relatively small, kids in the area currently tend to move hoops under streetlights, he said.

“If it’s lit, it gives them some place to go until 8 or 9 p.m. …” he said. “It could take kids off the street.”

But designers and city staff noted community concerns that lighting the court would draw excess people to the park, which is designed primarily with residents of the immediate, surrounding neighborhood in mind. They said a fully-lit court is already being considered in the design process for a third, larger facility, the eight-acre Sunrise Park.

Meanwhile, Councilman Craig Gartman said he’d walked the immediate area around Carriage Hills and heard exactly the opposite of what Arellano found:

“I did not see one person that wanted the basketball court lit,” he said.

Council eventually voted to endorse a compromise alternative that does not offer lighting, but incorporates an electrical conduit in construction so it can be provided in the future.

“Doing it one step at a time makes sense,” said City Administrator Jay Baksa.

Councilman Roland Velasco also inquired about a “climbing wall” play structure at Carriage Hills, wondering if it would pose a liability risk to the city. But officials assured Council that the small wall is designed within the same padding and safety requirements as other contemporary playground structures.

“It’s not the 20-foot wall you’ve seen around,” Baksa said.

Monday’s move clears the way for city parks officials to gather construction documents and put the parks out to bid. Work could begin this spring and be completed by early 2004, officials said.

Construction for Carriage Hills is estimated at roughly $700,000, with Los Arroyos ringing in at $795,000.

Planning for Sunrise Park in the Northwest Quad is still under way and not expected to be complete until at least the springtime.

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