Field of dreams almost a reality in Farmersville

City moves forward on Phase 3, announces grant funding on Phase 4 and expects to announce funding on its final phase of the 25-acre complex this summer

FARMERSVILLE – The city of Farmersville expects to announce plans this summer to complete its vision for a 25-acre park offering playgrounds, trails, ball fields and a plaza between its elementary and high schools.

City manager Jennifer Gomez said she expects to announce additional grant funding this summer to design and build the final phase of the park complex. Phase five of the park will add four tee-ball and coach pitch baseball fields as well as one full-size Babe Ruth field, two baseball fields and one softball field, all of which will double as fields for other youth sports on 2.3 acres north of the Consolidated People’s Ditch, which splits the complex into northern and southern halves. There will also be a skatepark based on public input provided at early meetings for the complex.

The news comes a month after the city council approved an $83,000 contract with Visalia-based engineering firm QK, Inc. to provide construction management services on the city’s Sequoia Gateway Park project. Phase 3 of the park officially began last summer when the Farmersville City Council approved a contract with Sierra Designs, Inc. to design the Sequoia Gateway project. The $307,000 contract will include an amphitheater with a covered stage, small playground for children, two covered picnic areas, restrooms and surrounding walkways and landscaping.

Located in the existing storm water basin, Gomez said the amphitheater will be a community meeting place for small concerts, movies in the park, cultural celebrations, and sports team presentations with tiered seating for approximately 75 people. The Sequoia themed playground for children and adjacent adult exercise stations will allow entire families to enjoy the area.

The project is being funded through a $1.9 million grant from the Cultural, Community and Natural Resources Grant Program. Funded through Proposition 68, the Parks, Environment, and Water Bond of 2018.

The Sequoia Gateway project originally included a schoolhouse pavilion with a weather station, tables, and seating for science experiments and presentations will be an ideal outdoor learning space. Farmersville Unified School District teachers and students would have access to these resources; the weather station was planned to have a wide variety of digital measurement tools that could measure earth and atmospheric conditions.

Three days after the council moved the half-acre project forward, the city was notified it would receive about $2 million for its Freedom Field project, which is Phase 4 of the complex. The 2.33-acre project will build picnic shelters, a tot lot for ages 2 to 5, restrooms, walking trails, 150 shrubs, 50 trees, a turf area, and a plaza to support community events such as the Fall Festival and food trucks.

“All of these features contribute to an open space allowing residents to gather with their friends and families,” Gomez said. “This phase is in direct response to the surveys conducted by the City to determine the highest priorities, and the City is pleased to provide them under this grant opportunity.”

Freedom Field is one of 25 projects throughout the state funded with $28 million from the California Natural Resources Agency’s Urban Greening Program. The city is also providing a matching contribution of $255,000 for an ADA accessible parking lot with drop off zones which will be funded by Measure Q, Farmersville’s cannabis tax approved by voters in 2017.

The field of dreams first became part of the City’s parks and recreation vision in 2001 when it purchased about 25 acres of land bordered by Farmersville Boulevard to the west, Freedom Drive to the east, Walnut Avenue to the north and Rose Avenue to the south. The land is split into northern and southern halves by the Consolidated People’s Ditch.

“There weren’t any grants large enough to fund the entire project so it had to be split into five phases,” Gomez said.

It took the city 15 years to complete Phase 1 of the park, which renovated three baseball fields at Veterans Park, the southeastern seven acres of the complex, and created a full-sized soccer field and two sandlots. Phase 2 planted 200 trees and 1,000 shrubs, built a half-mile walking trail with a bridge over the canal, added three picnic tables and benches, installed five acres of grass and a bioswale to collect rainwater but also to educate the public about drought landscaping and the area’s cultural and natural history.

Most of the $600,000 in projects were funded through a $541,679 Urban Greening grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, a $300,000 grant from the National Parks Service’s Land & Water Conservation Fund through California State Parks, and $170,100 grant through the Housing Related Parks Program (HRPP). The HRPP is funded through Proposition 1C, the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006, as an incentive for cities and counties to provide affordable housing for low income residents.

When all five phases of the park are complete, Gomez said there will be a small portion of the complex which will remain unfinished. The southwest corner of the complex is slated for one additional softball field and a pair of basketball courts. Gomez said the city is still searching for funding sources for the project so it may not begin until after the city has exhausted all grant opportunities.

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