SOLEDAD — California State Parks announced the City of Soledad would be granted $7.6 million for the construction of the Metz/Orchard Park near the intersection of Metz Road and Orchard Lane.
Soledad was one of 52 recipients and 62 grants named in the state’s announcement last week, chosen from 478 statewide applications for Proposition 68 community revitalization funds.
“This was a highly competitive grant and we scored extremely well on connecting with the community through this process,” said City Manager Michael McHatten. “This grant engaged the community to not just be a partner, but the voice as to what they want to see in their community.”
McHatten said the city is “ecstatic” over the award and that he personally feels this could be his most satisfying accomplishment in 25 years of public service.
The city sought the grant after designating the parkland in their ongoing development projects. The city hosted several community planning meetings to make it an asset to the future community, which included engaging children from the nearby elementary school. That input allowed the city to design a park to meet desired needs.
“We have thoughtfully and purposely designed a park that provides a safe place where families and children of all abilities can gather for recreational enjoyment,” McHatten said. “We want Soledad to have an inclusive park that takes away barriers to inclusion, both physical and social, providing a sensory rich experience for all.”
With funding acquired, the city’s next stage is to work on a final design and compile bids for construction, which could begin as early as 2021. The park could see a grand opening by the spring of 2022, McHatten estimated.
Originally intended as a park, McHatten said outreach shifted goals for Metz/Orchard Park to become a recreational hub of the community.
“This project will include inclusive playgrounds, picnic shelters, walking paths, amphitheater, splash pad and a dog park, amongst many other amenities,” he said.
Beyond Metz/Orchard, the city is working on updating its parks and recreation plan along with an update to the general plan.
“Both planning documents will serve as a catalyst for building a healthier Soledad,” McHatten said. “A well-thought-out policy document purposely created to make all segments of this community healthier by way of parks, trails, street design and other avenues will help create an even better Soledad.”