Jessica Cejnar / Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 @ 4:28 p.m.
New Beachfront Park Master Plan Seeks To Honor Del Norte's Natural Beauty, Cultural Diversity and Recreational Opportunities
Hoping to obtain up to $8.4 million in Proposition 68 dollars, Crescent City staff unveiled a new Beachfront Park masterplan that honors the region’s cultural diversity, natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
Staff, along with consultant Cathy Garrett, of Bay Area landscape architect firm PGAdesign, presented a park cobbled together from ideas Del Norters offered last year. Their goal is to create a park that appeals not only to Crescent City’s townsfolk but also visitors from across the state and country, Garrett said Monday.
“We’re trying to capture that character in the park and give them a rich experience,” she said, referring to travelers visiting Crescent City. “The start of that is to increase the public profile of the park. Enhancing Front Street is well underway right now and creating a signage programs makes the park a recognizable entity.”
After presenting the plan to the Crescent City Planning Commission, the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation and Elk Valley Rancheria, staff were hoping Councilors would weigh in on it. After receiving and digesting the input, another master plan draft would come before Planning Commissioners again in January before the final design comes to the Crescent City Council, likely the first meeting in February, City Manager Eric Wier said.
The city’s Prop 68 grant application is due March 12, Wier said.
California voters approved Proposition 68, the Park, Environment and Water Bond, in June 2018. The proposition authorized $4 billion in general obligation bonds for state and loccal parks as well as environmental, water infrastructure and flood protection projects.
Crescent City developed a Beachfront Park masterplan in 2012 and had built DogTown as a result. But, in order for the city to be able to compete for grant dollars, reaching out to the community and updating the plan was necessary, Recreation Director Holly Wendt said.
Following a handful of town hall meetings, focus group and “deep dive interviews” with various recreational groups, including Hispanic and Latino groups, those who work in the tourism industry, the Del Norte Senior center and business owners, the city developed a new master plan with another grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.
The new Beachfront Park has its main entry at Stamps Way and Front Street with another significant entry near the Crescent City Cultural Center and Play Street. Stamps Way ends at the ocean and Waterfront Plaza, which can be used for events like Pastels in the Park during the Fourth of July and can be a venue for food trucks and a farmers market, Garrett said.
Waterfront Park will be adjacent to an amphitheater that will include built-in seating and fabric-covered stage that could host anything from school plays to regional attractions, she said.
Entering Beachfront Park from Play Street by the Cultural Center, visitors will find memorials and other monuments reminding them they’re on Tolowa land, including a traditional slab house and dance platform, Garrett said.
The labyrinth — a popular request from city residents — will be along the southeastern edge of the park too, Garrett said.
The new masterplan also proposes an improved KidTown with amenities for older kids including climbing boulders, Garrett said. They will be near a picnic area.
A picnic area will also be on the west side of Stamps Way near soccer fields for young and old, Garrett said. There will be space for volleyball, pickleball, tennis and basketball. A community-size picnic structure, with improved bathrooms, will also be nearby along, while the park’s disc golf course will stay, she said.
In the park’s northwest corner, near DogTown, will be a bike park that offers amenities for beginner through advanced riders including pump tracks and dirt jumps. There will also be places to view the bicyclists, Garrett said. A jogging track will also travel through the area, she said.
Garrett also brought up the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, saying that the master plan calls for a path leading past the facility with an opportunity to view any patients that maybe staying there. The path will also take pedestrians through a wooded area, she said.
“One of the things we heard was this tremendous desire for more trees, more plantings of great variety,” Garrett said.
Garrett said she has also met with the head of the city’s maintenance department to discuss revamping the bathrooms. Pedestrian paths are also wide enough for vehicular access for maintenance and the Crescent City Police Department, she said.
Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin told Councilors that he had expressed concern about the number of trees in the park, saying it could give someone an opportunity to hide from law enforcement.
“Increased presence in there is a major focus of ours and has been since I took over as chief of police,” Griffin said. “We’re still addressing overnight parking. My guys are going in ther eat 11 p.m. and giving 72 hour notices.”
During public comment, Crescent City resident Tamera Leighton asked about the plan’s original theme focusing on the area’s redwood forests, rocky coastline and deep ocean.
Garrett said the idea of the new masterplan was to recognize Crescent City and Beachfront Park’s location, which includes its redwoods and ocean and addressing that through information. Many people wanted to know more about the area, including the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, she said.
Wendt said the Marine Mammal Center wants to partner with the city about erecting new interpretive signs focusing on the creatures that live in the ocean. She said that while she’s been working with the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation and the Elk Valley Rancheria on the park’s cultural component, she still needs to reach out to Redwood National and State Parks to discuss interpretive possibilities too.