Eureka Director of Community Services, Miles Slattery, states ”It [Cooper Gulch Park] Definitely would not qualify and we would not be able to get the funding”. We determined otherwise.
We read the Request for Proposals for the Parks Revitalization grant and contacted the State Park Grant Manager, Lee Butterfield, to verify our findings that Cooper Gulch Park is not only eligible but would be a competitive candidate for the Parks Revitalization Grant. He confirmed our findings and corrected us on one misunderstanding. The Parks Revitalization grant allows for up to $8.5 million per application not per applicant.
The Parks Revitalization grant is better suited to address the spectrum of our community needs than the Cultural, Community and Natural Resources (CCNR) Grant the City of Eureka is currently pursuing. The proposal for the CCNR grant would fund an artificial turf field and a couple ADA accessible features, such as a bathroom. These investments would do little to address the low rate of participation in the park by women, the elderly and children not involved in league sports. On the other hand, the Park Revitalization grant provides an opportunity to address the needs of the diversity of Eureka’s citizens. It would support an assortment of investments that would not only benefit sports leagues with field improvements and cover ADA accessible features, but would also support the improvement and development of trails, interpretation and art installations, a covered pavilion, an amphitheater, a food truck court, picnic tables and barbecues, benches, bat boxes, botanical gardens, outdoor exercise equipment, bocce courts, and a playground. This opportunity should not be disregarded by our city staff but pursued wholeheartedly with the direction and support of our elected leaders, City Council.
Director Slattery states that because Cooper Gulch Park exceeds 3 acres per 1000 resident ratio it is ineligible, would not be competitive, and therefore will not be pursued. Cooper Gulch Park has between 8-9 acres per 1000 residents (Figure A). According to the grant guidelines, an application is ineligible where within a half-mile radius of a project site, there is a ratio of more than 3 acres of park space per 1,000 residents AND the community has a median household income above $51,026 (p.15). The median household income within half a mile of Cooper Gulch Park is roughly $34,000 (Figure A), which means that the park is not inelligible due to the ratio of acres per 1000 residents. In fact, we were told by the grant manager that the low median household income, which is significantly lower than the State’s ($67,169 in 2017, ACS Census Bureau), would make the project more competitive. The grant also heavily weights proposals that offer benefits that respond to the Community Challenges (Figure B). We documented community challenges through the CGCG community survey and developed the CGCG Community Vision to respond to the challenges and opportunities our community identified. The Community Vision could be used as a basis in the coming months to further refine a proposal through Community Based Planning (Criteria 4, Figure B), which would result in a highly competitive application.
The Facts: It is not true that Cooper Gulch Park would not qualify for the Parks Revitalization grant. There are nine factors that grant applications will be considered. We could be highly competitive on many of these factors, for example, our low median household income, our documented community challenges and project benefits, and community based planning. The opportunity to secure $8.5 million to fund an assortment of recreation facilities that would benefit the community throughout the days, weeks and years to come should not be dismissed by city staff but pursued wholeheartedly with the direction and support of our elected leaders, City Council.
Find out for yourself about the grant criteria at the Proposition 68 Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Grant Technical Assistance Workshop 9am to 3pm on February 21st at the Warfinger Building, 1 Marina Way, Eureka.