Ranger Joel Cervantes keeps parks clean and trails safe. He was hired thanks to Measure A funding.

Ranger Joel Cervantes keeps parks clean and trails safe. He was hired thanks to Measure A funding.

New redwood table tops and repaired stone fire pits at Memorial Park, funded by Measure A.

Posted April 2016:

At Memorial Park, the oldest park in the San Mateo County Parks system and what many call the jewel in its crown, rangers have been busy replacing water pipes, repairing stone fire pits, laying smooth asphalt and fixing a camp used by generations of children.

The construction is part of a push to address the backlog of needed projects across the Parks system, which has received $7.69 million from the Board of Supervisors to rebuild a department that suffered significant cutbacks during the Great Recession.

Projects at Memorial and at parks across the county are being funded with the help of Measure A, the half-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in November 2012 to support essential County services and to repair or replace critical facilities. The Board had pledged to make parks a priority when the measure passed with 65 percent of the votes cast.

“Each year nearly 2 million people enjoy our parks. As you can imagine, that creates a lot of wear and tear on our facilities and we need to ensure our parks are safe, accessible and, of course, provide visitors with great experiences and great memories," said Marlene Finley, the Parks Director. “We are tackling the most critical needs first."

Here is a partial list of work completed or under way:

Memorial Park

Less than 30 miles from Silicon Valley, the towering redwoods of Memorial Park and quiet paths have long been a refuge for those seeking to escape daily cares. The park opened in 1924 and was memorialized for local residents who died in the First World War.

During the Great Depression the Works Projects Administration built restrooms, picnic areas, roads and trails. Now seven decades later many of those aging facilities are undergoing makeovers or are being replaced.

The biggest ticket item was $1.6 million for a new fresh water treatment plant, followed by $95,000 for three new 10,000-gallon water storage tanks. 

The two projects rose to the top of the needs list after the County was forced to close Memorial for the 2014 summer as Pescadero Creek, the park’s source of fresh water, dried to a trickle. In 2015 the park stayed open but campers and visitors were without flush toilets or showers.

The County has also replaced dozens of aging redwood picnic table tops and benches and repaired dozens of stone fire pits and stoves. How do those get damaged? Years of visitors using the stone surfaces as a base for chopping wood, explained Priscilla Alvarez, Memorial's lead ranger.

Elsewhere in the 673-acre park, water mains have been replaced and a septic system at the Homestead youth camp repaired. “The public is seeing that we are improving things,” Alvarez said.

San Pedro Valley Park

This 1,052-acre park in the Linda Mar area of Pacifica has some of the smallest projects in terms of dollars, yet some of the largest in terms of making positive impacts on the environment.

San Pedro Creek is the only major habitat for steelhead trout from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay. Rangers have replaced and enlarged numerous culverts running under roads to increase water flow and reduce sediments in the creek to improve habitat. "All of the work is in-house labor,” said Kevin Scott, a San Pedro Park ranger. “Once we had the permits and the funding, we just got in there to get it done.”

Flood Park

The Board of Supervisors has allocated more than $1 million in Measure A funding to repair and improve this 21-acre oasis in Menlo Park. Parks staff has spent months working with community residents and a design consultant to "Reimagine Flood Park" with a new layout with a promenade and a multi-use amphitheater, a bike track and bocce courts. In addition, the plan reflects the community's major request -- two new ball fields for baseball, soccer and lacrosse.

The proposed plan is currently under review and should be presented to the Parks Commission and Board of Supervisors in April 2016.

Ralston Trail Repaving

This popular cycling and hiking trail linking Ralston Avenue in Belmont to Cañada Road near Highway 92 underwent resurfacing and improvements in spring 2015. The $225,000 project made for a smoother and safer ride with new fencing.

During the project, San Mateo County Parks rangers ferried cyclists around the work by loading bikes in their work trucks.

Wunderlich Park

This park's largely undeveloped 942 acres near Woodside originally belonged to the Folger family -- of Folger's Coffee fame. The Board of Supervisors committed $351,000 toward upgrading the historic 1905 Folger Carriage House to make it accessible to disabled visitors. This project is in the early design stage.

Huddart Park

Improvements to this 974-acre park include breaking apart old asphalt and replacing it to make picnic and other areas more accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Toyon and Sequoia campgrounds have been upgraded and a new trail sign system has been installed. Measure A also helped to fund new double swings, a climbing boulder, tightropes and other amenities that will delight younger visitors.

This project was also funded by donations from the Friends of Huddart and Wunderlich, a nonprofit, community-based group dedicated to preserving the local environment and historic legacies of the two parks.

Devil's Slide Trail

The 1.3 mile Devil's Slide Trail opened in spring 2014 thanks to an infusion of Measure A funds that included the hiring of two rangers to staff Devil's Slide. The cliffside trail follows the former path of Highway 1, which was rerouted through new bypass tunnels.

The new trail is open to pedestrians and cyclists and is lined with benches, telescopes and interpretive signs highlighting the unique features of what was once a treacherous highway.

For more information on how Measure A supports County Parks as well as open-space protection and enjoyment countywide, visit the San Mateo County Parks website.

Explore Parks and Environmental Initiatives Funded by Measure A:

Creating a Stand-Alone Parks Department/Devil's Slide Funding: San Mateo County Parks

San Mateo County Parks Strategic Plan

Cleaner Energy -- Community Choice Aggregation Program: San Mateo County Office of Sustainability

Drought and Water Storage Projects: Resource Conservation District and San Mateo County Parks

Youth Exploring Sea Level Rise: Coravai LLC

Improving Parks: Cities of San Mateo, Foster City and Belmont

Business Development Services for Parks: CHM Governmental Services, LLC

Restoring County Parks and Trails: Student Conservation Association

Mapping our County Parks and Trails: Student Conservation Association

Design for 2 Miles of New Wavecrest Trail: Coastside Land Trust

Measure A Funds Add to Pedro Point Headlands Open Space: City of Pacifica

Building Better Parks: San Mateo County Parks Foundation

Ravenswood Bay Trail Connection: Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Habitat Restoration and Trail Building at Pedro Point Headlands: Pacifica Land Trust

Cooley Landing Education and Community Center: City of East Palo Alto

Assessing and Managing Groundwater: Erler & Kalinowski, Inc.