WATSONVILLE—The first phase of the Watsonville Slough Connector Trail Project at Ramsay Park kicked off Monday, with construction expected to run through the end of November.
Granite Construction has teamed up with the city to complete the project, which will establish and enhance trails through the park, add a new series of connector trails to nearby slough trails, more shade trees and a new picnic area.
The project will be completed in two phases, the second of which will begin in December and be completed at the end of February 2022.
Parks and Community Services Director Nick Calubaquib said he was “very excited” about the start of the project, which will address a number of accessibility issues at the park.
“One of the major aspects of the park that has been missing for a long time is a safe ADA-accessible thoroughfare through the park,” Calubaquib said. “Now, in the middle of the park, you come to a place with no sidewalk or way to walk across. There’s no way to easily get from one side of the park to another. We want to address that.”
Another aspect of the project is the planting of more trees, and adding tree wells to the large parking lot on the Harkins Slough end of the park.
Calubaquib said that the trees will not only provide visitors more shade, they will also discourage people from “fooling around” in the lot, like doing donuts in their cars.
In addition, the greening will include the building of rain gardens, which collect water runoff from the park and allow it to soak into the ground.
Calubaquib said that Granite and the city are committed to ensuring that the majority of park amenities will remain open during construction. The first phase will include the closure of the Harkins Slough Road parking lot and the Nature Center, though park users can use the Main Street lot to access amenities like playgrounds, the pump track, softball field and Soccer Central.
The second phase will close the parking lot on the Main Street side, as well as the Ramsay Park Family Center. Calubaquib said the city is working with the county about the fate of the Covid-19 testing site currently at the Family Center.
“Of course we’re all hoping that by then, it won’t be needed anymore … but we really don’t know,” he said. “We’re making arrangements for a Plan B, just in case.”
The project is part of the implementation of the Ramsay Park Master Plan, which began with the construction of the bicycle pump track last year. It is funded through a grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, a Community Development Block Grant and the city’s general fund.
Calubaquib guessed that some people might not care as much about this part of the Master Plan, compared to larger projects such as the pump track or the rebuilding of the soccer field. However, this project is incredibly important to the daily life of the park, he said.
“This is mostly about support amenities—things that will support the focal parts of the park,” he said. “They are important to help with its functionality.”
Click here for updated timelines and detailed closure information.