The parking lot at Escalon’s Community Center was full on Wednesday night.
But most of the people there were actually at sports games and practices on the adjoining Hogan-Ennis Park fields, not inside the Community Center to attend a meeting about the expansion of the very park they were at.
And that, attendees noted, is part of the problem – lack of adequate parking for events at the Community Center itself when there are sports games going on.
A proposed expansion at Hogan-Ennis Park, on a little over 19 acres purchased by the city, primarily to the north of the existing park footprint, will include added parking in two different areas. Both are situated a fair distance from the Community Center, but as officials noted at the Wednesday public meeting, this was just a draft concept master plan, not the finished product.
Two representatives from Drake Haglan and Associates were on hand to offer information and handle questions, along with two representatives from O’Dell Engineering. The groups cooperated on the plan design, with input from city officials as well.
“I want this to be more of a casual, informal discussion,” said Miguel Ramirez of Drake Haglan. “It’s a pretty exciting project. We met with the city staff and walked the site.”
The expansion will include a skatepark, as well as improvements to the circulation of the existing parking lot and the addition of two more. Soccer fields, both regulation size and those for youth soccer, are included in the plan, along with a walking path through much of the acreage. More baseball and softball fields are provided for as well, along with batting cages and a new playground.
Landscape architect Michael Rosales of O’Dell Engineering said comments from the attendees would provide “very valuable feedback” as they take the thoughts into account and make any revisions to the plan.
“Please make sure your voice gets heard,” Rosales said.
Alison Kelly from O’Dell Engineering also said they included the walking path for an adult exercise option, perhaps the parents utilizing the walking paths while children are practicing on nearby fields, or encouraging area seniors to walk in the park. A 100-by-100 area has been designated for the skatepark, just north of the Escalon Feed & Supply property, fronting on Escalon-Bellota.
The three representatives, along with Matt Satow of Drake Haglan, reinforced that the plans are not ‘set in stone’ and changes can be made.
Local resident Angelo Blanco suggested it might be wiser to switch the placement of a proposed parking area with a drainage basin, to get the parking closer to the Community Center, but officials were not sure that would be possible due to the slope, but said they would look into it.
“It’s a well done proposal,” noted Escalon City Councilman Danny Fox. “It’s a nice design, I like it.”
Mayor Gary Haskin was also in attendance and said the concept is good, but it won’t happen overnight.
“This will be a slow transition,” he said, noting that the park will have to be done as money becomes available.
Planning officials said that was part of the process, developing a plan that could be phased in. With comments received at the Wednesday night meeting and their own ‘second look’ at the draft plan, officials said they would meet again with city officials to consider any revisions to the plan, develop the draft plan and then prepare some cost estimates for the council to review.