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June 2, 2023

Roadmap for Watsonville’s parks gains council approval

Watsonville faces more than $18M in deferred maintenance

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a trio of plans for the city’s 26 parks.

Along with approving master plans for Ramsay Park and the City Plaza, the council also OK’d the 2020 Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan, a first-of-its-kind project for the City of Watsonville that spells out a path for much-needed improvements and additions to the City’s parks, programs and relationships.

That plan identifies more than $18 million of deferred maintenance at various parks, and prioritizes which projects should be completed first. It also encourages expanded cooperation with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and other organizations to offer further recreation options for the community. 

How the City will pay for the mounting deferred maintenance costs is still a mystery. The Parks and Community Services Department receives roughly $250,000 annually to make improvements to its aging parks and trails, but that cash is just a sliver of what the department needs to repair several broken or malfunctioning play places. 

The plan, prepared by Santa Clara’s Verde Designs, Inc., also alludes to possible funding streams for the needed improvements. Among those that perked the council’s ears: a parcel tax and possibly raising fees for recreational programs. 

The latter was concerning for Councilman Francisco “Paco” Estrada, who said some youth programs already price out some of the city’s low-income residents.

“It’s one of the strategies that we’re looking closely at,” PCS Director Nick Calubaquib said.

To see the full 200-plus page plan, visit https://bit.ly/3bvVGTk.


The City Plaza final plan includes the addition of several trees, picnic and game tables, a stage and repairs to several of the mainstays such as the iconic bandstand, which has not been operational since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. 

All of these upgrades will cost about $2.9 million, which the City hopes will be paid by a Proposition 68 grant they applied for in August. They will learn if they will receive the funding sometime this spring, according to Calubaquib. 

Whether they receive that grant or not, the construction of a permanent restroom will begin by fall of this year. It will cost a little more than $300,000.


The complete overhaul of Ramsay Park is a little more tricky, as the City has not lined up funding sources for the expansive $21.2 million facelift.

A grant will allow them to construct a slough connector trail later this month that will make reaching the Harkins Slough Road side of the park an easier task. And a private donation brokered by a Santa Cruz mountain biking group will fund a bicycle pump track in place of the old skate park. The latter project is set to begin construction in fall of this year. 

Nine other projects, however, still need funding. The most expensive project among them is an expansion of the family center building that would add an indoor basketball court. That item carries a $4.2 million price tag.

Renovations to the soccer field and softball diamond are also planned. Both roughly cost $2.5 million.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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