City hoping for grant funding to complete Montana Park

Nearly five years after construction began on Montana Park, phase two of the project moved forward this week following approval from the Turlock City Council.

The City first broke ground on the park’s first phase in May 2016, utilizing $443,100 of grant funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Phase one of Montana Park, located on Montana Avenue, features a fairly basic design with two large turf areas, benches and a cement walking path. 

At the time, the City planned on constructing the park’s second phase when more grant funding became available. Phase two’s original design called for a fitness area with outdoor equipment along the park’s perimeter in addition to a multi-surface court area for sports, a playground and a large picnic area. 

Juan Vargas, a staff services analyst for City Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities, told the Council on Tuesday that the department has attempted to secure Proposition 68 funding for the park twice since 2018, failing both times but advancing far enough the second time to receive a site visit — something only 10% of applicants receive. 

He’s hoping the third time’s a charm, especially given the efforts the City has made to ensure Turlock’s west side has a say in their newest park. Community forums and collaboration with local organizations like Westside Ministries have led to some changes in the original design plan, like the shift from a perimeter-based fitness circuit to a centrally-located fitness area and the increase from one, large picnic area to multiple, smaller arbors. 

The park is designed to appeal to community members of all ages, Vargas said.

“It’s designed to be multigenerational so that parents can go and work out, and they’re close to the playground where they can watch their kids playing,” he said.

This will be the last round of Prop 68 funding available and therefore the City’s last chance to utilize grant money to complete the park. The City is seeking $2.3 million for the park, Vargas said, and ongoing maintenance should be affordable given the second phase’s design featuring a drought-tolerant landscape. 

“I’m very happy to see Montana Park move forward into phase two,” Vice Mayor Pam Franco said. “It’s been sitting there like this for a long time.”

The Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution approving the Prop 68 application.

“I’ve had so many people call me up and tell me thank you because we really feel like the City listened to us on these projects with the amenities and the features,” Councilmember Rebecka Monez said.