Should disc golf come to Alston Park? Could Dry Creek Park do with some fresh landscaping? And what about building a performance stage within Fuller Park, at the heart of Old Town?
Those suggestions – and numerous others offered by Napa residents – joined the list of possible improvements at a Thursday night forum the city organized to garner ideas to refresh its parks. The open house at the Senior Activity Center came as Napa prepares to upgrade three of its recreation areas in the coming year, and as the Parks and Recreation department looks ahead to planning upgrades in the future.
This year’s focus is creating new structures to shade visitors at Alston and Dry Creek parks along Dry Creek Road in the city’s northwest, as well as at Fuller Park close to downtown. Officials also seek to build a permanent restroom building for Alston Park behind its main parking lot. Those improvements are part of the long-term strategy set down in a parks master plan the city passed in 2010.
While most of the ideas offered on Thursday will likely take at least a few years to turn into reality, small-scale fixes could jump closer to the front of the line if they fit within Napa’s small amount of annual cash for general park improvements, according to Dave Perazzo, city parks manager.
“It’s based on our ability to fund them – if they’re small in scale, they’ll be easier to fund than if they’re big and ambitious,” he said, pointing to a disc-golf course – one suggested addition to Alston Park’s expansive grounds – as a relatively low-cost upgrade.
At the table displaying Alston Park, which includes a designated space for dog owners walking their pets without a leash, the suggestions ranged from an obstacle course-like dog agility area to an enlarged walking zone and even a canine-themed sculpture. But one frequent visitor was content for Napa to keep the park’s focus on the pets themselves and their natural surroundings – not pet-shaped fixtures.
“This needs to remain a rural park, where nature is the artist,” said Candace Ramsey, who takes dogs to Alston daily for her dog-walking and pet-sitting service Ozzie’s Pals. “You’ve got blue herons here, and voles, and red-tailed hawks, and to bring in (dog art) is contra-indicative to that.
“This is our gem in Napa,” she said of the leash-free reserve. “People hear about it and say ‘Oh my gosh, we don’t have anything like this where we live.’”
At another table, nearly two dozen visitors flocked around a display board showing the possible locations of upgrades within Fuller Park. One spectator hoped those plans also would include changes to make the Old Town hub friendlier to families, especially during the summers when young children can fall victim to heat stress.
“Right now it’s only shading a small square,” Lisa Lombardi, a member of the Napa Moms Club, said while studying charts of the tree-lined square bounded by Jefferson, Oak, Seminary and Laurel streets.
In all seasons, Lombardi added, Fuller Park will need improved playground gear on top of the changes Napa made there and at three other parks last year. (A fifth site, Playground Fantastico on Old Sonoma Road, is slated to have its equipment replaced this spring or summer, according to Perazzo.)
“We hope they listen to the community,” said Lombardi of the play area.
Meanwhile, a more recent Napa arrival wondered whether the city could rearrange a part of Dry Creek Park, to reduce noise at the house he bought directly north in 2016. Placing tracing paper over a map of the park grounds, Don Andreotta sketched an outline of the existing basketball court behind his home – then drew another court farther south.
“We love the neighborhood; we love the opportunity to have a neighborhood park,” said Andreotta, who came to the city from Connecticut. “We just want to improve their opportunity (to improve the park) while giving us some peace.
“You have no idea what it’s like to hear dribbling for hours – I actually extended the height of my fence to get some degree of privacy!” he added, laughing.