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City snags $489,000 river parkway grant for park
This aerial photo of the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park was superimposed with planned improvements. - photo by Graphic courtesy of the city of Ceres

The Ceres Rotary Club A California River Parkways (RP) grant worth $489,000 has been awarded to the city of Ceres to help complete the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

The city completed the first phase of the project with a similar grant awarded years ago.

The grant is being issued by the California Natural Resources Agency from a $7.6 million pot of money.

"We're very excited about that and hope to get started on that right away," said City Manager Toby Wells. "The goal will be trying to get it under construction in the summer of '17 to get that project on the lower bluff completed."

The River Bluff Regional Park is divided into two geographically different sections. The upper terrace, which is level with Hatch Road, is the recreational portion of the park. The northern half of the park, which is on a lower terrace near the river, is planned for habitat ponds, more native landscaping, an access road, more trails and resting benches, and a non-motorized boat ramp. The lower terrace near the Tuolumne River is being restored to its natural river habitat from its former use as a walnut orchard.

The work will cost an estimated $1.5 million.

Last year the city ordered $2.3 million worth of work to expand the park. The work involved removing one soccer field and adding two championship fields and three youth fields, doubling the size of the existing parking lot, adding a roundabout entrance, fencing off a well site, building a $132,750 arbor, installing landscaping and other improvements. With six fields, Ceres competes with Modesto, Ripon and Turlock for state cup tournaments.

Eventually the park will be equipped with a two-million-gallon water tank in the middle of the east side of the park needed when the regional surface water project goes on line.