August 1, 2008

New Park May Be Small, but It’s Big for San Pablo

By Chris Treadway

The park beckons with two play structures -- one for children 2 to 5 and the other for ages 5 to 12 -- along with picnic tables, turf areas, walking paths, native plant areas and benches.

"It's a lot of stuff in a small area, but it's not overcrowded," said associate civil engineer Angela El-Telbany with the San Pablo Public Works Department. "There's something for everybody. We're really excited about bringing a recreational space to that part of the city."

Fashioned on hillside property considered unsuitable for residential construction because of slope stability issues, the park was conceived in 2006, when meetings took place to learn neighborhood needs.

The resulting design addressed desires for a space that served young, old and in-between. Kathy Kramer, originator of the award- winning Bringing Back the Natives tour of East Bay gardens and a resident of the neighborhood, worked with the city on including native plants in the landscaping, reducing the watering and maintenance requirements.

"We were concerned about what we could put in such a small area. By very carefully positioning the play structures where we did, we were able to build around that," El-Telbany said.

"From there, it was a challenge to get funding," she said. "We applied for a couple of grants and were fortunate enough to get one."

The $70,000 award from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is a combination of state and federal money, was used along with some redevelopment agency funding. City crews did some of the work to keep contractor costs down.

The resulting park "looked even better when it was built than it did on paper," El-Telbany said. "From my point of view, it's a very beautiful and relaxing place."