North Valley park to receive $2.4 million upgrade

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Merced County has been awarded a multimillion-dollar grant to make major improvements to one local park.

The transformation of Houlihan Park is already getting underway. Crews spent hours taking down trees to make room for a new ADA compliant restroom facility.

But this work is separate from a long list of projects that will begin soon thanks to the $2.4-million state grant.

"Everything from a splash pad to basketball court renovations, new picnic shelters, walking path and an outdoor amphitheater. It's really going to be an exciting project for the community," said Bryan Behn, Merced County's Deputy Director of Public Works for the Parks and Recreation Division.

He says several community groups and local residents gave input to ensure the upgrades are exactly what they want.

That includes Daniel Chavez, who also serves on the Planada Elementary School District Board. He's especially excited about plans to resurface the basketball court and add LED lighting, plus the five covered picnic areas, the shade structure that will be installed over the playground, and the outdoor stage.

"It's really needed. When this is finished, it's going to be a place where all the community can come."

Officials also hope the improvements will help deter crime in the area by keeping the park filled with people who are there to enjoy it. Longtime resident Yolanda Trevino says she and many others can't wait for the transformation to be complete.

"I'm happy, and all the community's happy for the new park," she says.

The grant requires that the work here be completed by March of 2022.

This was one of just 62 projects out of 478 applications to receive funding. The City of Gustine also received $1.3 million to upgrade Pioneer Park.
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