Susan Andrade-Wax, director of Community Services who championed the Master Plan effort, told the council that with 68% of the city's population now over the age of 35 and with only 43% of the households having children at home, park and recreation needs are changing with the demographics.
This means that in addition to playgrounds and baseball fields, programs and facilities with more of an adult focus will need to be added, including dog parks, walking and hiking trails, more lighted tennis courts, and more picnic tables and barbecues in the parks.
Pleasanton currently has 371 acres of developed parkland, which more than meets the General Plan's parkland acreage goal of 5 acres for every 1,000 residents. But as more people move here, those numbers will change.
If the city's population -- now at 72,000 -- grows to 78,000 as expected in the near future, another 28 acres of parkland will be required. The city's full range of community programs also will need to be expanded, including those for seniors. High on the list of needs in city parks are restrooms, a much-discussed need in public forums and at council meetings but also difficult to add because of high costs and safety issues.
Browsing through the Master Plan's bound volume of charts, maps, pull-out lists, park and recreation inventories and color photos, it's apparent that Andrade-Wax and her team have done an excellent job of providing and maintaining parks and open spaces, including programs that are accepted by residents and are successfully meeting the public's needs. But in highlighting the evolving changes in community demographics, including age, nationality and race, Andrade-Wax's report also shows numerous changes in recreation programs, open space and other needs that will need to be addressed. Cricket, rugby, outdoor yoga classes and, yes, public restrooms in neighborhood parks and at the BMX track off Stanley Boulevard come to mind. Restrooms in parks located close to homes have never been considered, but with an aging population and more high-density apartments, "running home" to take care of your needs is no longer always possible.
More dog parks have been among the most pressing requests to the Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council, and now Andrade-Wax has won approval for a second one to be established at the head of the Marilyn Kane Trail at Lagoon Road just south of Bernal Avenue and the Bernal bridge over the arroyo. Parking is limited there and planners believe at least one more off-leash trail is needed, preferably on the southwest side of the city.
Another need, cited by Mayor Jerry Thorne Tuesday, is an ice rink. Ice skating clubs in Pleasanton have to travel to a single crowded skating rink in Dublin or to better skate parks in San Jose. At one time, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks proposed building a multi-rink skating facility on Staples Ranch in Pleasanton. That plan was shelved as the recent recession hurt the Sharks' finances, but Thorne said that plan is still alive and he wants the council and city staff to pursue it.
In accepting the Master Plan report Tuesday, City Manager Nelson Fialho said it will be a "living" document to serve as a guideline on future City Council and staff capital improvement plans. It's voluminous contents also will serve as the source of future commentaries in the Pleasanton Weekly about parks, open space, sports and other recreation activities.
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