City of Merced breaks ground on $2.6 million McNamara Park renovation

MERCED, Calif.

The park is located on the area of Canal and 11th Streets. The state awarded the City a $2,619,740 Park Development and Community Revitalization Program grant in 2010.

The city will be adding will be renovating the playground area, installing new restrooms, a performing arts area, a picnic area and security cameras.

Merced Recreation Supervisor Joey Chavez says the park will also feature the city's first artificial turf field for soccer as well as the city's first splash park. It will have a new multi-purpose field for other sports.

"This park is going to be one of the top notch parks in the city of Merced," Chavez said.

This is the city's second shot at making the park a reality. Earlier this year, the city put the renovation work up for bid, but city leaders deemed the initial cost too expensive.

"The grant was funded for $2.6 million," Chavez said. "The first round of bids, they were going over budget... they were coming in at $2.3- and $2.2- (million), so we had to cut some stuff out."

Some of the improvements that did not make the final plans include putting up a new fence around the park or redoing the blacktops.

But that didn't seem to matter for the people at the ground breaking ceremony.

City leaders invited students from Tenaya Middle School to help turn dirt. Afterwards they kicked soccer balls into a net. City leaders say it's a gesture to the kids, as they will be the future users of the synthetic soccer field.

The only group currently using McNamara Park regularly is the Merced Atlas Academy, a soccer club team for children 5-years-old to 18-years-old. Fernando Aguilera who heads the Academy says his players will have to practice at other facilities while the field is being renovated for six months.

"I think this project is going to be really awesome," Aguilera said. "Merced is going have a big, big nice facility. So I'm just really happy. And I'm just waiting for the day they give the field back to us."

Many from the surrounding neighborhoods also showed up to see the groundbreaking ceremonies. Alemetres Huddleston has lived in the neighborhood since 1947.

"It was our park. It was where we hung out," Huddleston said. But she's slowly seen it become less and less popular over the years. Now she like many in the neighborhood hope to see McNamara Park restored to a thriving community park the way they remember it.

Construction crews are set to begin work on Monday Nov. 4 and wrap up sometime around April 2014.

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