Improvements to the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park are still in the works but years away, City Manager Toby Wells stated at the April 27 Ceres City Council meeting.
The city park on Hatch Road is currently being improved with new soccer fields. The northern half of the park, which is on a lower terrace near the river, is planned for habitat ponds, an road access and a boat dock.
"The tentative time frame is about two to three years based on the funding sources that we have identified right now," said Wells. "It'll be about a million and a half dollars to finish that lower river bluff."
The Ceres park is divided into two geographically different sections. The upper terrace, which is level to Hatch Road, is the recreational portion of the park. The lower terrace near the Tuolumne River is being restored to its natural river habitat from its former use as a walnut orchard.
Wells brought up the matter after Ceres resident Don Donaldson suggested that the project had been canned.
"I thought we was going to build a boat dock down below for canoes," said Donaldson. "That was the stipulation after we built the first soccer fields."
In February the council awarded a $2.3 million contract to Ross F. Carroll Inc. of Oakdale, to expand Ceres River Bluff Regional Park on Hatch Road. The work involves 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 the existing well site, building an arbor structure worth $132,750, landscaping and other improvements.
Construction on the Hatch Road park is expected to start soon with the project ready by August, just in time for soccer play.
The project, which was approved in 2012, makes a number of improvements at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
With six fields, Ceres can compete with Modesto, Ripon and Turlock for state cup tournaments.
The park project calls for the addition of two new championship soccer fields, two Under 8 youth soccer fields, a "TOP" soccer field for handicapped play, park amenities in the existing playground, a traffic turn around for drop-off traffic, and a new parking lot for 226 vehicles at the southeast quadrant of the park. The design allows the city to use an area along Hatch Road west of the current entrance for either a commercial businesses or overflow parking in times of high use.
Currently the park has only 245 parking stalls and the city routinely receives complaints about the limited parking at the park, which has become a year-round facility.
The new design also calls for a roundabout near the entrance to help vehicles flow in and out of the new and existing parking lot. At some time in the future the city wants to add a second ingress/egress for the park at Boothe Road.
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.