Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal
San Mateo is seeking proposals to update Central Park’s master plan. Some features of the park may be moved but others such as the Japanese Tea Garden, Great Lawn and Rose Garden will stay in place. The children’s playground will also get an update to meet current safety standards.
San Mateo’s Central Park, in the heart of the city near downtown, may look startlingly different in future years as the city is seeking design proposals to update the park’s master plan.
The city sent out a request for proposals seeking landscape architect and planning services consultants to update the master plan, last amended more than 30 years ago.
Some of the park’s features will remain in place but others, such as the tennis courts and parking garage, may be moved or repurposed.
Protected will be the Japanese Tea Garden; Kohl Pumphouse and areas leased to the San Mateo Arboretum Society; the Rose Garden; and the Great Lawn.
The bronze cast dog which greets visitors entering the park from Ninth Avenue is also protected.
The public parking garage is considered crucial to the city’s overall downtown parking management plan, however, and potential consultants will have to at a minimum keep the number of spaces intact, according to the RFP. The garage currently has 122 parking spaces.
The request seeks to maximize the park’s open space and historic nature and to enhance its value as a link to downtown to support its economic vitality.
“We are very excited about the prospect of updating the Central Park Master Plan as the initial, and only, plan we have was adopted by the City Council in 1982,” Park and Recreation Director Sheila Canzian wrote the Daily Journal in an email. “After 30-plus years, we thought it was time to step back and evaluate whether the current features and layout of the park are still relevant or whether they need to be updated.”
The bocce ball courts near Fifth Avenue are little used now and have fallen into disrepair and may be repurposed for another use, Canzian wrote.
“We also recognize that the children’s playground sees a lot of use and needs updating to meet the latest safety and accessibility guidelines,” she wrote.
Central Park is the city’s first public park and was established in 1922.
“I think most everyone considers Central Park to be the ‘jewel’ of our park system,” Canzian wrote.
After the master plan is updated, the city will consider relocating any of the park’s facilities. Canzian is hoping for lots of input from the community as it embarks on the park update.
The city has earmarked $300,000 for the master plan update and proposals are due in September.
“The highest and best value of having an updated master plan is that when funds or opportunities become available, we already have a vision of what improvements are most important to the community,” Canzian wrote.
Currently, the city’s Public Works Department is engaged in a facilities assessment of the Central Recreation Center and the art center that it will provide to the consultant.
The city strengthened the existing parking structure and refurbished the tennis courts in 2010 for about $1.5 million. The City Council is tentatively expected to approve a consultant contract for the master plan update at its Nov. 4 meeting.
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