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Tot lot handed back to the county
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The county hopes to reopen this children's playground on the grounds of the Stanislaus Recovery Center in Ceres now that the city of Ceres has terminated by two years a contract to take care of it. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The Ceres City Council agreed Monday to hand back a tot play lot on the grounds of the county-owned Stanislaus Behavioral Health Center parcel to the county.

The city has kept the tot playground closed for about two years because the equipment no longer meets state safety standards. Earlier this month the council decided against spending $9,050 to make the park safe as far as the state is concerned.

Stanislaus County District 5 Supervisor Jim DeMartini said he really doesn't have an issue with the city action but said the county is interested in keeping it open.

"I just hate to see a park closed," said DeMartini, who visited the park for an evaluation and pledged to have the county reopen it. "I'm going to do my best to take care of it."

He said the lot, which is less than a third-acre in size, is important for an area of Ceres where there are no close-by recreational uses.

DeMartini said he does not consider the sand in the lot to be unsafe but apparently the state wants a rubberized bark to help cushion children in falls.

Through the Ceres Redevelopment Agency, the city spent $47,000 to obtain the equipment back in 2001.

The council voted 5-0 to bring on an early termination to the agreement with the county by two years.

The city, acting as the Ceres Redevelopment Agency, agreed to take control of the county park in 2001. The lease agreement indicated that the city would be responsible for the maintenance of equipment for the duration of the agreement, which was 15 years.