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ARPA funds to finish lower terrace of River Bluff Park
Lower terrace River Bluff Regional Park
Work to restore the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park to its more natural condition is nearly complete and very soon will be reopened for public enjoyment. A walking trail around a lagoon, picnic area and kayak ramp into the Tuolumne River are other features of the Hatch Road park. - photo by Jeff Benziger

ARPA funds will be used to pay for maintenance, staffing, equipment and improvements to the 18-acre lower terrace of the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

The city has been converting the 18 acre section of the park next to the Tuolumne River to a natural state where water fowl and other animals live. A kayak ramp was added in 2021 but a fire caused the city to close the area while landscape has been replanted. Acting Public Works Director Sam Royal requested extra staff to provide proper maintenance and monitoring of park activities.

The $200,000 will pay for one full-time parks maintenance person and two part-time staff members to monitor weekend activities for a year. It also includes park improvements, installing a sliding 20-foot-wide gate access for the lower terrace, equipment support, and signs.

In a separate funding action, the city plans to install seven security cameras on the lower terrace.

Councilman Mike Kline sought clarification about whether or not the council included the amount in a previous discussion about where the ARPA funds would be spent. City Manager Alex Terrazas noted that the council had not talked about using ARPA funds on the park and that this was a recommendation to use the leftover funds.

Kline stated that he preferred that the money go to Ochoa Park’s development.

Mayor Javier Lopez pushed for the council to support the expenditure, saying the public “has been screaming at us saying, hey, we want access, we deserve access.”

Vice Mayor Bret Silveira agreed with Kline, saying Ochoa Park rated higher in priorities. He also stated the lower terrace needs to be opened to the public but adding, “not sure why it hasn’t been opened to this point.”

The expenditure passed 3-1.