High Public Engagement at Measure J Outreach Events
Tim Mathias, the architect who created the new designs, explains the proposed improvements to Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre.
Melissa Ruth, an associate at Callander Associates, leads a group of Fair Oaks residents on a site walk, describing the project and gathering community input.
FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - To gather public input for upcoming park improvements funded by Measure J (and hopefully Prop 68 as well), the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District recently held four public outreach events. Many local residents attended the site tour on May 21, the open-house discussion and kids’ workshop event on June 6, and the pop-up booth at Concerts in the Park on June 20. Landscape architecture firm Callander Associates facilitated the community outreach events, and representatives from the firm explained the improvements planned for Village Park, Plaza Park, the Community Clubhouse, and Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre — including an integrated walkway to increase the connection and accessibility between the major sites in Fair Oaks Village.
The site tour, open-house discussion, and pop-up booth all provided details about the project, which is based on the District’s Master Plan from 2012. For Plaza Park, the goal is to improve access by providing more parking, creating an interior pathway, and improving ADA accommodations. A water fountain, art installations, and a plaza area would transform the park into the front door to the Village. There would also be a raised permanent stage for events and performances. To make room for additional parking spaces, some green space would be sacrificed but all the existing trees would remain.
For the Amphitheatre, the proposal includes changing rooms for the actors and new restrooms. Of two possible designs, the public favored a new stage and backstage area that can be enclosed so the theatre could be used for other community events during the offseason. The outdoor seating area would remain as is, with no additional seating created.
The main concern at the Community Clubhouse is the lack of accessibility with its hilltop location. The current ramp is very steep, so the plan is to replace it with a set of staged stairs and handrails. The project proposes the installation of a rose garden at the foot of the stairs, but some members of the public asked if the garden could instead be planted with drought-tolerant native plants.
At Village Park, the plan is to formalize the entrance and create more parking and safer sidewalks around the park. The public suggested picnic areas and more shade trees, as well as an expanded playground. The restrooms are up the hill from the playground, so a switchback ramp would improve access.
The kids’ workshop event gave young citizens the opportunity to provide their input about improvements to the playground at Village Park. They voted for their favorite designs, created their own playground drawings, built model playgrounds with Legos, looked through a wide array of playground equipment options, and took a 3D virtual playground tour.
Senior recreation leader Mary Cattolica said the event allowed them to “see through the eyes of a kid what’s attractive to them, since that’s who it’s for.”
Six-year-old Mary Crosariol said she would like a zip line in the park along with a “ginormous” slide.
Ben Woodside, a principal at Callander Associates, said the consensus among parents is the desire for “a water feature, shade, and safety upgrades.”
The public engagement at the outreach events has been “amazing,” said District administrator Mike Aho. “It’s better than any I’ve ever done in my entire career.” Aho is happy to see so much interest in the projects, saying, “You voted for it; it’s your money. Now tell us how to spend it.”
The next outreach event will be a formal presentation at the Community Clubhouse (7997 California Ave.) on July 16 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. Attendees can review the District’s Master Plan, ask questions, and offer feedback. Visit www.forpd.org, select the “About Us” tab, and click “Measure J” for more information.
The Measure J Bond Oversight Committee canceled their meetings for June and July so members can focus on attending outreach events to gather community input. The next meeting is scheduled for August 6 at 6:30 PM in the Old Fair Oaks Library, 4200 Temescal St. Meetings are open to the public.