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June 18, 2021

Gilroy to begin evaluating Hecker Pass proposals

Public comment encouraged at March 15 meeting

The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the future of Gilroy Gardens while the City of Gilroy evaluates the two proposals it received for the park and the surrounding property over the next few months.

The City of Gilroy received two proposals—one from Las Vegas-based Imagine That! and the other from Select Contracts of Canada—that would transform the horticulturally themed park if approved.

The city has sought proposals for the “Hecker Pass Highway Tourism and Recreation Development Opportunity” since November. The 20-page RFP document describes the 536-acre property on Hecker Pass Highway and the city’s goals to “establish Gilroy as the top family-oriented outdoor recreation destination in the San Francisco Bay Area and nearby Central Coast.”

In a 60-page document, Imagine That! outlines its experience in designing theme park attractions across the globe over the past three decades, which includes work on various Las Vegas shows and at parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios. It did not offer specifics of its plan for Gilroy.

Select Contracts’ proposal would construct a number of hiking and biking trails throughout the adjacent mountainside at various skill levels, as well as four zip lines down the mountain. It also calls for a “surf park” near the entrance to Gilroy Gardens, complete with surf and wakeboard pools and cabins for out-of-town guests.

According to city officials, the process is expected to take two to three months. Both companies will present their proposals at the March 15 Gilroy City Council meeting, where the public is invited to participate and comment on the two proposals. Information on how to participate will be posted on the city’s website before the meeting.

After the meeting, representatives from the City of Gilroy, Economic and Planning Systems (the city’s consultant for the project), Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, Visit Gilroy and Gilroy Gardens will interview the companies on their proposals.

The proposals will later be taken to the Chamber of Commerce Board, Visit Gilroy Board and Gilroy Gardens Board for review and recommendation, and afterward, these recommendations will be presented to the city council, where they will be agendized for further discussion and direction.

At this phase, the council may choose to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with one of the companies, where details of the specific proposal would be studied and negotiated to determine if the plan and project are suitable for moving forward, city officials stated in a press release. During this process, an outreach program including council study sessions and community forums will be conducted to receive public input on the specifics of the proposed project.

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