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Ceres to remain as Tuolumne River park partner
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The city of Ceres will not pull out as a partner in the joint powers authority (JPA) that governs the Tuolumne River Regional Park, councilmembers decided on Monday.

The cities of Ceres and Modesto oversee the 500-acre park with Stanislaus County. All three agencies financially support the park - located between Ceres and Modesto - including its governing, upkeep and maintenance and improvements.

Members did not feel that bailing out of the JPA - which the city has been a part of since 1972 - was worth the savings to Ceres taxpayers.

The city of Ceres paid $25,930 towards the park's maintenance in the 2009-10 fiscal year and could see its annual payment drop to $16,000 for the upcoming budget year.

"I think it's a good venture which we've been a part of since 1972," said Councilman Guillermo Ochoa, who represents the city of Ceres on the JPA.

"We gain a lot for our citizens from it," cautioned Len Shepherd of Ceres, who is on the TRRP advisory board, before the decision. He predicted a lot of maintenance problems for the park if Ceres pulls out. Shepherd said park leaders continue to obtain federal and state grants "because we're forward looking."

"This is a small price to pay for the valuable jewel we have," said Mayor Chris Vierra.

"I think this has to continue," commented Vice Mayor Ken Lane.

Ochoa said Mancini Park on the Ceres' side of the river is cared for by the TRRP JPA and that many Ceres area residents use the park.

The park strings along seven miles of the river in disconnected segments.