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Council to spend $10,000 to move park along
Ochoa Park jogger
An Eastgate resident jogged around the barren Guillermo Ochoa Park site the morning after the Ceres City Council approved a $10,000 community input outreach campaign and redesign. The park was dedicated over a year ago and isn’t near completion. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The Ceres City Council on Monday approved the spending of $10,000 to conduct community outreach workshops and come up with a conceptual design of Ochoa Park improvements.

Dedicated in July 2021, the park lacks grass and other amenities. Last month the council found itself in a 2-2 tie vote to allocate $1.2 million to complete Guillermo Ochoa Park on Ceres’ east side. Councilman Mike Kline objected, saying the city’s plans to finish the park were both non-specific and lacked features residents want to see. Some residents at the July meeting suggested that the city include other features not planned for, including benches, trees and shade structures. City Engineer Kevin Waugh explained that the chief improvements being proposed for $1.2 million were site regrading, installation of a storm drain system and an irrigation well, additional decomposed granite and hydro-seeding turf for grass. He said a shade structure and benches could be added as a third phase. 

On Monday Waugh won full council approval to go to the neighborhood residents to see what park amenities they’d like to see included. Community meetings will be held within 60 days.

The $10,000 expense will be covered by Neighborhood Park Fees fund.

Waugh said that the city will use the existing park design and modify it to reflect the community’s wishes as long as it fits within the budget.

Vice Mayor Bret Silveira said he supports involving the community to provide input.

“If it takes $10,000 to redesign it and get it done correctly – we’ve waited this long, I think it behooves us to make sure we do it correctly this time, maybe this will be the last time so I can fully support this,” said Silveira.

Waugh estimates that finishing development of the park will cost approximately $2.5 million, which will be covered mostly by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds given to the city of Ceres by the federal government.

Councilman James Casey said he didn’t want to give the impression that he is opposed to finishing the park but decried the delays and lack of proper citizen input in designing the park. He supported the measure.