Fortuna eyes $8M Newburg Park expansion

Friendly City to submit competitive grant application

This overhead image from the city of Fortuna depicts what Newburg Park would look like if a proposed expansion by some seven acres happens. (Contributed)
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The city of Fortuna has had an eye on a parcel of land that abuts on Newburg Park for more than a few years and now that the state of California has made available millions of dollars in grant funding the city may just get the land.

The city of Fortuna has already held the first of five public meetings and will host two more community meetings in May, the first on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Rohner Rec Hall and another on Tuesday, May 28 at the River Lodge, to discuss the future of Newburg Park.

City officials are asking for public input into what upgrades they’d like to see and any new additions to the park such as new ball fields, trails or additional parking. According to the city’s recreational director, Cameron Mull, the city hasn’t submitted a competitive grant bid in more than 20 years and they are looking at a grant request of about $8 million.

“There is a total of $255 million available from the state and we’re going for grant funding in this first funding round,” Mull said on Tuesday. “There is a 7.7-acre parcel owned by the McLean Foundation and part of the grant application requires public outreach and we want to know what does the public want to see built. We have hired Greenway Partners to facilitate our five public meetings. What they will do is give us some preliminary designs and we will include those design elements into the grant application.”

City officials are looking at expanded parking spaces, the possibility of upgrades to the baseball and soccer fields and there is even talk of constructing a turf field so that winter rains don’t make the playing fields unplayable.

“There is a big push for a swimming pool from some people but we’re focused on the soccer fields, baseball fields and softball fields,” said Mayor Sue Long. “There are times when we can’t play in the winter and an all-weather field could play a huge role for the city in hosting tournaments and getting folks to visit Fortuna. Anything we can do to keep our youth focused and engaged and … on the right track we should do.”

The city has a grant application for park expansion turned down in 2018 and this time around the city believes it has a better shot at securing the funding. A skate park could be a part of the final grant proposal and any expansion would also mean improvements to trails and the bike trail.

“We put together a project for Land and Water Conservation funds last year but were unsuccessful,” said city manager Merritt Perry. “There are approximately seven acres south of the park and the owner has agreed to sell at a reduced price. We have a lot of interest for improved sports fields and for increased walking trails along the creek. It’s a natural fit and we want to make sure we hear from the public. We want to put together a comprehensive grant application and we want to know how we can meet the public’s needs.”

The city won’t learn if they are awarded the grant funding until the end of the year. Following the meeting at the end of the month, the city will host two more meetings, one focused on the needs of seniors and the other on the needs of the city’s youth.

“We’re letting the public tell us what they want and need,” Mull said. “We’ve been working with the Humboldt Skate Park Collective to see if we can put the skate park in with the grant funding. We want to rehabilitate existing facilities including the bike park and expanded parking.”

For more information about the park and the city’s grant application, contact city hall at 707-725-7600.

Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528. 

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