The inaugural meeting of the newly formed Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission held on Wednesday brought forth excitement from the combined group of nine commissioners, as they begin seeking new ways to expand and improve the City’s art community and parks.
Joining the Parks and Recreation Commission are former Art Commissioners Lakneshia Diaz, Larry Yeakel, and Sergio Alvarado after the City Council opted to combine the two city commissions last month.
During the meeting, the group made two decisions relating to both the arts community and city parks, including a resolution to not build a new basketball court at Donnelly Park after being requested to by a Turlock citizen, in addition to continuing their efforts to host a California State University, Stanislaus art event at City Hall.
According to Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erik Schulze, City staff recommended that the Commission not pursue the basketball court at Donnelly Park due to finances, as well as the City’s plan to develop a new skate park at the park in the near future.
“With the existing amenities at the park, including basketball courts, two play areas, and the planned skate park, the park would be pretty impacted,” said Schulze. “The addition of the skate park alone will drive a lot of new traffic to the park, and if we added another basketball court, there would be very little open space left.”
Schulze also pointed out that there are plenty of additional basketball courts within walking distance of the park, including Crowell Elementary School, Brown Elementary School, and Summerfaire Park.
“I think that keeping open space at the park is best for the community,” said Commissioner Brent Bohlender. “Besides, we need to be focusing on more dynamic options to bring to Turlock.”
Bohlender noted the study being conducted by the Parks and Recreation Department that focuses on finding needs and desires of the community for new recreation opportunities, saying that options such as a bowling alley or other family-based entertainment facilities are what the City should be focusing their attention and budget towards instead of taking away existing open space at city parks by adding new amenities.
In respect to the arts, the commission reviewed the City’s efforts to bring the CSU Stanislaus annual art event “Penumbra” to City Hall, with plans to host a reception prior to a City Council meeting honoring the university participants while also allowing students to read their published poetry during the Council meeting. Additionally, all included art pieces will be set up on display in the City Hall art gallery.
“I just want to make sure that we protect the art side of the things,” said former art commissioner Larry Yeakel. “But I look forward to taking on parks related issues in the City as well.”