Goleta inched closer to the long-awaited skate park planned for Old Town when the City Council approved the land-use change for Hollister/Kellogg Park last Tuesday. Complications ranging from the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies (RDA) to property owner intransigence have stalled the project to convert four acres at Hollister and South Kellogg avenues to public use, but the city has used the time to hold workshops on what the park will look like. The result, approved in July, contains a soccer field, various ball courts, a playground, a splash pad, parking, picnic areas, and a skateboard plaza.
Though the council voted enthusiastically and unanimously to amend Goleta’s General Plan to allow recreational uses at the site, the city still awaits word from the state on its title to the property. It had been bought by the city and its RDA for $2.62 million in 2011, but the state Department of Finance gets to determine if ownership will go to the city or the state.
In Old Town, parks are woefully nonexistent. City planner Claudio Dato said only 1.5 acres of parkland serve every 1,000 residents in Old Town compared to 17 acres per 1,000 residents in Goleta overall. Based on that critical lack of park space, the state Department of Parks and Recreation awarded a grant of $910,000 to build the park, Dato said. After doing some quick math, Councilmember Kyle Richards observed that the new park would only bring that ratio up to 2.25 acres for Old Town residents, a deficiency he asked staff to continue to look at.
The council’s action on October 17 changes the two parcels that make up the park from residential and commercial uses to open space and active recreation. The popular “splash pad” designed into the park would be installed, but current water restrictions mean the spigots won’t spurt until drought restrictions are lifted by the Goleta Water District. Alongside the park and San Jose Creek, a 0.2-mile bike path is planned on adjacent parcels, part of a hoped-for route to reach the beach. The short segment includes a giant landmark: the Sister Witness Tree, a 94-foot-tall and 52-foot-circumference California sycamore, though to be the largest on the planet and predating European arrival.
The project now awaits word from the state regarding ownership of the land before contract bid requests can go out for construction.