Cities, county get $1 million for recreation


Staff Writers

The cities of Brawley and El Centro and the county government have received state grants topping $1 million to upgrade and build recreational facilities.

The grants were awarded as part of the Urban Open Space and Recreation Program under the state Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Act approved by voters in March 2000.

The act provides funds for high-priority projects that satisfy the most urgent park and recreational needs in the state, with an emphasis on unmet needs in the most heavily populated and most economically disadvantaged areas.


More than $28 million was awarded on a competitive basis to cities, counties, districts and federally recognized Indian tribes in rural areas.

Brawley has received a $385,000 grant for a swimming pool upgrade through the bond, El Centro a $275,000 grant for McGee Park, and the county $490,000 for the building of Ocotillo Park.

Other local cities are in the process of either finalizing applications for the state grants, are beginning the application process or are looking into applying for the funds.

In Brawley the upgrade to the swimming pool will cost about $500,000 with that covered through the grant and an additional $165,000 from the city.

The upgrade, to be designed this year with construction likely done following the summer of 2003, involves re-plastering and re-tiling the pool, along with adding new heaters, new filtration and chlorination. The work will include a rehabilitation of the smaller wading pool along with other work on the pool area.

Brawley Parks and Recreation Director Karin Morgan added there is a chance the project could be done in a year, but she added first the city must bid out the design phase to a firm and that can be a lengthy process.

She said it is important that the pool not be closed during the summer, so with both the time it would take to do the design and construction, it likely will not be done until after the summer of 2003.

"If we can do it faster, fine," she said.

The pool was built in 1968 and last renovated in 1986.

The city of El Centro was awarded a $275,000 state grant for the renovation of McGee Park.

"This project will meet one of the city's most urgent parks and recreational needs," said Marty Tracey, El Centro parks and recreation director.

The total cost of the McGee Park project is about $393,000. The city's 30-percent matching funds, $118,000, will be funded through the use of parks development impact fees and in-house design and engineering.

"McGee Park was selected because it best meets the criteria of the grant program and because of the high volume of usage by the surrounding residents and the Police Athletic League," Tracey said.

The city can meet its matching funds requirement through the partial funding of new restrooms to service the park and adjacent soccer field. Other project improvements will include the installation of playground equipment that meets the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act, surfacing, a shade structure to cover portions of the playground equipment, reconstruction of the basketball court, a restroom/snack bar facility and a drinking water fountain.

There has been public support for upgrading the park across from the city's Community Center on South First Street, according to city officials.

The county received $490,000 from the state but will have to put up work services equal to $150,000 toward the Ocotillo Community Park project. The county applied for the grant in October after almost six years of planning and partial work by former county Supervisor Bill Cole.

The planned 6.5-acre park is designed to increase quality of life and decrease community isolation, according to an October letter by county property services director Randy Rister.

Other local cities are in the process of finalizing or submitting applications.

Calexico is finalizing its application for $174,000, which would be used to help cover costs related to its new skate park.

The city of Imperial is in the process of developing an application for Prop. 12 funds.

Imperial City Manger Vince Long said the city could use funds to help with the building of a new library or the development of a park plan for the city.

Calipatria and Westmorland officials said they are looking into applying for grant funds through Prop. 12.

Information was unavailable from the city of Holtville this morning.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie contributed information to this story.

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