City council wants to exercise discretion on plans for new park

Jermaine Johnson II

City council may remove exercise equipment from the new east side regional park plans over fears of high maintenance costs, graffiti

VISALIA – Residents who were looking forward to exercise equipment at the future park on the city’s east side, may not be getting their wish after all. The city council has discussed removing exercise equipment from the park’s construction plans and instead upgrading the park’s walking trail.

The city plans to construct a park east of McAuliff Street, at State Route 198. It will be bordered by the future Tower Street, Houston Avenue, Mineral King Avenue, and Road 152. The design phase of the project is 80% complete, with exercise equipment being a prominent part of those plans. They would be installed at various stations along the park’s trails. At the Nov. 2 city council meeting, the board was presented with three different design options including various types of equipment that range in cost, quality and complexity.

The grant funding for the project would cover the purchase and installation of the equipment, but not the maintenance. Several council members have expressed concerns about vandalism of the new equipment, as well as maintenance costs. As a result, they discussed two alternative options: moving forward with the design of the park without the inclusion of exercise equipment, while making the trails more superior or deferring the equipment to a later date. If they were to do one of those options, the staff is unsure if they will lose a share of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant, which was awarded to construct the park. If so, the remaining costs would have to be paid by the city.

As a result, the council voted in favor of tabling the discussion for a later date that is currently unknown. In the meantime, the staff will consult with the grant agency to determine the status of the grant if they were to move forward with one of the two alternative options.

If the council were to move forward with one of the three design options, they were able to decide which two options they like best. The first package, titled the green fields trail package, was recommended by the staff and also the parks and recreation commission. It includes 12 units to be located in mini stations spread around the trails. The stations will consist of exercise pieces that are designed to complement cardio workouts, and emphasize upper body and core exercises. The equipment includes two-person accessible lat pull, two-person full bar exercise, two-person incline sit-up bench, two-person accessible chest press, two-person back and arms combo, four-person combo bars, four-person lower body combo, two-level horizontal bars, four-person leg press, plyometric steps, four-person pendulum-abs-and-dips station, parallel bars. Other pieces of equipment can be added, or some of the included equipment can be replaced for an additional cost. This vendor also offers pieces that are designed for access by persons with disabilities, which could be added as an option. This package is expected to cost around $145,000.

The other package, titled outdoor fitness, would include 15 pieces of equipment that can be installed as a cluster of exercise stations or spaced along the trail. The package includes the following equipment: back extension machine, chest press, exercise bike, hip twister, lat pulldown, leg press, push bars, self-weighted rower, sit up bench, ski walker double, strength and stretch bars, Tai Chi Spinners, two-sided rotator, uneven bars, and a waist stretcher. Other pieces of equipment can be added, or some of the included equipment can be replaced for an additional cost. This package is expected to cost around $32,000.

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