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Parks Commission shoots down dog park rename, halt on Crane Park additions
parks pic1
Rick Harden and 2-year-old grandson, Israel Gonzalez, do their part to celebrate National Arbor Day at Turlock's Centennial Park on April 25 ,2008. - photo by Journal file photo

The word “aye” seemed to be missing at Wednesday's Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission meeting, as members of the commission failed to pass both items on the agenda.

The first item to be struck down was the possible name change of Turlock's Centennial Park, located on Countryside Drive, to Swanson Park. The Swanson family, who owns the local Pet Extreme, offered to donate $35,000 for the building of a dog park on the location of the current park. In return for the donation, the Swanson family requested the name of the park be changed.

That, however, did not sit too well with some of the park commissioners.

Bella Daniel, one of the commissioners who disagreed with the name change, said the purpose of naming the park Centennial Park was to commemorate the history of the city. She stated a name change now would take away from the historical significance of its name.

“Because it's a centennial park, and because it represents 100 years of Turlock, it’s kind of hard to change that,” said Daniel. “It’s the only park we have that is a centennial park.”’

However, not all those present at the meeting agreed with Daniel.

Allison Van Guilder, manager of Parks and Recreation for the City of Turlock, said the park is in need of improvements, and the Swanson donation was a real possibility of making that happen.

“Our particular park fee system was never structured in a way where it was intended to cover things like dog parks and play structures,” said Van Guilder. “The way that our fees are set up is that it is community donations that create and support those kinds of amenities.”

Commission Chair Barney Gordon echoed Van Guilder's view and stated that without the donation, the possibility of future improvements seems slim.

“Even if we have a very successful community campaign, the likelihood of us raising that much money from small donors would be tough,” he said.

Despite the support for the renaming from both Van Guilder and Gordon, the action item failed in a close 3-2 vote.

The next item that the commission shot down was a request to ban future additional amenities at Turlock's Crane Park, located on Canal Drive across from Turlock High. Stan Grant, the community member who requested the ban, said the park has been “built out” and that the current use of the park is at its full capacity. According to Grant, the park currently has 18 amenities and that its intensity of use is 350 percent higher than the second most used park in the area, Donnelly Park.

In light of this use, Grant asked the commission to put the brakes on future projects.

“This whole neighborhood park is functioning like a community park," said Grant. “I think there ought to be a way to say that this is enough.”

Gordon said putting a cap on how many amenities can be added would stifle future conversations regarding the park and possible improvements.

“I would have a hard time hamstringing future neighbors of Crane Park or future staff from considering new things,” said Gordon.

The action failed as no member of the commission brought it to motion.