Major improvements in three parks and expanded recreational programs will be coming to Los Banos residents in the next twelve months.

City staff made those announcements at the quarterly meeting of the Los Banos Parks and Recreation Commission meeting July 19.

Parks and Recreation Operations Manager Joe Heim talked about significant upgrades at the Ag Sports Complex , the construction of pickleball courts at Cresthills Park and the inclusion of a splash pad in Pacheco Park.

Public Works Director and City Engineer Nirorn Than pointed out that the city will be hiring a new recreation supervisor and a rec coordinator in the next few months to strengthen the recreational program.

Heim and Than also presented the commissioners with a new 34-page Recreation Guide that shows the many programs available to Los Banosans of all ages. The guide is available at the Community Center (645 Seventh St.) free to anyone who asks. It is also available online at the city’s website.

Heim and Than were able to make their presentations because of the city budget that was passed by city council last month, which includes significant funding for parks and for recreation.

They both pointed out the importance of Measure H, passed in Los Banos several years ago, which sets aside funds for parks and for recreational programs.

Improvements at the Ag Sports Complex (700 N. Mercey Springs Rd.) include a new concession stand and restrooms,  field improvements, outfield net replacement and the planting of trees.

Six pickleball courts will be built at Cresthills Park (700 Pioneer Rd.), giving the city its first outdoor pickleball courts.

The splash pad, also known as a spray park or water playground, would operate during the summer months. It would be accompanied by shade structures and a pumphouse.

All three projects are in different stages. The Ag Sports Complex and the pickleball courts are expected to be completed by the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year. The splashpad should be designed and engineered by June 2023, after more community input this year.

Other smaller projects to be completed in the current fiscal year include new playground equipment at Davis Park (254 Santa Ana St.), Gardens 1 Park (1540 West I St.) and Little Page Park (600 Page Ave.)

There is also hope that the city might be awarded a state grant to upgrade the Colorado Ballpark.

“City staff is excited about these projects,” said Heim. “We believe these will increase recreational opportunities for our residents. We also believe these are wise expenditures of both Measure H and city general fund dollars.”

In another agenda item the Parks and Recreation Commission was given the opportunity to review a draft list of proposed name changes to several parks which currently have generic names.

For example, the park now named “Vineyard A Basin Park” on Birchwood Avenue would be renamed “Birchwood Park.” In most cases the new park name reflects the street where it is located.

Commission Chair Shemar Pierce liked the idea and said it would make it easier for most people to find the newly named park. Commissioner Gary Munoz also liked the concept but suggested it be brought back to the next commission meeting in October for further review and public comment.

The commission passed a motion unanimously to bring the list back in October.

Pierce, in her commissioner’s report, made a point about safety. She said that  during many city activities, including baseball, softball and soccer games, there are times when unaccompanied children dart into adjacent streets.

She asked that parks and recreation and the police department develop a plan, which could include volunteers, to help monitor the children who come to these events.

The next Parks and Recreation Commission meeting will be October 18 at 6 p.m.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend and provide their comments  and perspectives to the commission.

The Westside Express