WATSONVILLE—Plans for long awaited renovations to the Ramsay Park soccer fields are moving forward, Parks and Community Services Department (PCS) Director Nick Calubaquib said at Monday night’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.
Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker has asked Calubaquib’s department to seek bids for construction documents that will be used to refurbish the soccer fields at the city’s largest park. The hope is, Calubaquib said, that the PCS department will bring those bids to the City Council during budget hearings in May and June.
“If they approve that, we’ll be that much closer to making those dreams a reality,” Calubaquib said.
The project, estimated at $3.6 million, has been in the works for several years, but the city has not been in the financial position to fund its creation out of its own pockets. At a recent City Council meeting, however, Administrative Services Director Cindy Czerwin said the city’s general fund balance stood around 35 percent of its annual operating expenditures, or $16.5 million. That is well above the City Council’s goal of maintaining its general fund balance at 20 percent of its expenditures—a policy set in 2018. Those unallocated funds opened the door for the city to possibly complete some capital improvement projects that have piled up over the years.
Calubaquib said that he and the City Council have received at least 15-20 emails in the past couple of weeks concerning the Ramsay Park soccer field renovations. He encouraged people who want the project to be completed to continue sending emails and to show up to City Council meetings in the months leading up to budget hearings later this year.
“I can’t say enough about the community support that we’ve had for that project in particular,” he said.
The Parks & Recreation Commission also got behind the project Tuesday, as Commissioner Brando Sencion jump started a committee whose sole purpose is to generate community input and support for the renovation. Commissioner Jessica Carrasco, a local artist and soccer coach, volunteered to lead the committee.
The planned renovations come from the city’s Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan. Along with updating the field, the renovations include a $600,000 lighting system that would allow teams to play deep into the evening.
Sports returning in April
Thanks to updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health released late last month and plummeting Covid-19 case rates, Calubaquib said some youth and adult sports leagues operated by the city should be back in action in the first week of April.
That includes the adult softball and youth soccer programs. The city is expected to open registration for those sports in the coming weeks.
Calubaquib said the city is also working with its competitive soccer team, the Watsonville Breakers, in restarting its season.
Swim programs are also making a return. Calubaquib said a new partnership with Quicksilver Swim Club at Watsonville High School will offer “pre-competitive” conditioning and training for young people interested in making the transition from swim lessons to the competitive field.
The city’s long standing learn to swim summer program is also expected to return to Watsonville High.
“Sports is back online and we’re super excited about that,” Calubaquib said. “Again, there’s a lot of things that have changed and a lot of progress that has happened in the last few weeks.”