One of Napa’s most popular nature parks will be coming into some cash in the next couple weeks, and that stream of money is expected to continue flowing annually in the coming years.

The city is the beneficiary of a trust fund created in 2008 and will soon receive its first check, Parks and Recreation Services Director Larry Mazzuca said. The $17,700 check may be used only on trail, drainage and bench maintenance at Alston Park.

With the money, the city plans to purchase and install 10 new benches in the park, Parks Superintendent Dave Perazzo said in an email.

Additionally, some of the money will be used to supplement the cost of trail and drainage maintenance in the lower portion of the park, he said.

“Materials include new pipe, drain rock, concrete and other necessary materials that will improve existing trail systems and help reduce erosion from occurring in drainage areas,” Perazzo wrote in an email.

The Francis E. Dawson Alston Park Trust Fund was established in 2008 with more than half a million dollars to be distributed to the city through the Napa Valley Community Foundation, Mazzuca said. The foundation distributes the money based on a formula of the average balance of the previous 12 quarters. To date, the city had not received any money from the fund because its balance did not meet the minimum requirements.

For the past few years, Mazzuca has been working with the foundation to possibly change the way it determines distribution of the money. It ultimately decided to do that, allowing the city to begin receiving some of the funds. The current balance is $632,500, according to a city staff report. It’s unclear how much the city will receive in the future, but Mazzuca expects the amount to rise if the economy improves.

The drainage and trail work at Alston will likely begin in the spring, after the winter rains have come and gone, Perazzo said. Benches may be installed sooner.

“We will begin installing benches once they have been ordered and received,” he wrote.

The park was at the forefront of a small dispute recently regarding some neighbors and park users who were upset by local high schools’ use of Alston for cross-country meets.

Mazzuca said the schools have been using the park for more than 20 years and he had never before heard a complaint in his six years at the city. Usually, the teams’ coaches post their running schedule in the park so users know in advance when the trails might be inundated with local teens. Additionally, the schools obtain a permit for the use.

For an unknown reason, the permit was not obtained this year, nor was the schedule posted, Mazzuca said.

“Some people were caught off guard,” Mazzuca said of park users. “Someone posted something at the park telling people who were bothered to call us.”

The city has since contacted all the schools and the permits have been requested, Mazzuca said. The schedules are now posted at the park.

As for the park maintenance, Mazzuca and the Parks and Recreation Commissioners hope an Eagle Scout candidate might step up to help with the work. Several Scouts attended last week’s commission meeting and may partner with the city for their projects.

(2) comments


I agree, the benches are not fully utilized as it is. There are a couple of footbridges with deteriorated planks that pose a hazard and should be replaced. I would like to see more trees planted; possibly the benches and picnic tables would be further utilized if they were in the shade.


There's no need for benches...I barely ever see anyone seating on the few existing ones (and I believe they're donations "in lovely memory of...").
Water fountains and garbage cans is what's needed, if at all!

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