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Celia Jiménez here, blown away that Monterey County got $26 million in funds from California State Parks to fund four community projects: Carr Lake Park Development and Closter Park Improvement in Salinas; Greenfield Recreation Center/Park; Downtown/Plaza in King City. Over $153 million in total grants were awarded from the 2021-2022 state budget. 

The city of Greenfield was awarded $8.5 million in funds to build a new recreation center and park that will have a playground, gymnasium/recreation center building, computer lab, multi-use sports field and a jogging and walking loop. 

This project has been in the works for years and Jesus Perez, the recreation coordinator, says “it’s a dream come true.” Perez says this facility will offer different programs for all ages such as computer literacy, dancing, and nutrition. The recreation center will also include an inclusive playground that everyone, especially kids with special needs, will be able to enjoy. 

Perez says a committee of 12 worked for eight months reaching out to the community through workshops and surveys to find out what they wanted in the community center. They were hoping the community would support the project and it did. Over 1,000 people responded to the survey the recreation department sent out. “We just knew that now it was time for the state to believe in us like we believed in our community,” Perez says. “There's a large need for indoor activities and outdoor recreation.”

They also partnered with organizations including Greenfield Union School District, South Monterey County Joint Union High School District, Centro Binacional and the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.

The funds they got from the state will cover about two thirds of the costs. “The project itself is over $14 million and the city has committed to spend over $5 million dollars for that,” Perez says. The project will be developed in the summer of 2023 and completed a year later. The city is looking for a developer, and expects the bidding process will take about a year. “[It] is going to give kids more opportunities to practice a sport at all times of the year, not just when the sun's out,” Perez says.

Other projects that also got funds are Carr Lake Park, a project that has been in the works for decades. In September, the Salinas City Council approved a plan to transform Carr Lake into a park; three months later, they got a $8.5 million grant that will help to construct the first phase of this 73-acre park: A nature playground and amphitheater, a basketball court, skate area, hiking trails, picnic areas and more. 

Closter park, also in Salinas, obtained $6.8 million to make upgrades and renovations. Projects supported by the funding will include a new fitness loop, art and music sound plaza, a themed playground, picnic area, amphitheater and outdoor BBQ. The basketball courts, baseball field and ball field will be renovated.

And last but certainly not least, King City was awarded $2.1 million which will be used to build the city’s new downtown park/place which will include a performance stage, open lawn areas, interpretive art and a promenade. Good things are in the works in Monterey County, and I look forward to seeing each of these projects take shape.

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