Funding lapse stalls planned park improvements

Planned improvements to Laurelwood Park could be postponed if city funds are not available.

San Mateo Parks and Recreation Director Sheila Canzian said plans are still being developed, but funding is also an issue.

“We’re still trying to see if we have the funding for it,” she said. “We’re still assessing what’s going on.”

Improvements to Laurelwood, a 225-acre park located off Glendora Drive on the city’s southwest border and at the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain, have been in discussions for more than a year.

Phase 1 would include upgrades to the playground area and installation of a new restroom in accordance with the park master plan, Canzian said.

Cost for improvements were not available, but the City Council approved design and development documents for consultants that were prepared in 2008, according to documents.

The master plan for Laurelwood Park was approved by the city in 2007. Since then, designers have worked to develop drawings for potential improvements, according to city documents.

Elected officials declined comment on improvements to the park, stating that all questions needed to be addressed to the Parks and Rec staff.

Design and development drawings were open to pubic review in May 2008 in preparation for construction and bidding documents. The project has not yet gone out to bid, Canzian said.

San Mateo, like most cities on the Peninsula and around the state, faces a budget shortage. The city must accommodate an $8 million deficit. Officials cut 100 positions and lost an additional $2.8 million in tax revenue after the state’s borrowing.

Two hotel taxes passed by voters last month — Measures L and M — are expected to generate roughly $4 million to use on a variety of services, including street and park maintenance, according to city documents.

Ann Arnold, president of the Beresford-Hillsdale Homeowners’ Association, said she hopes the city can find the money to make necessary improvements at the park.

“Maybe if the playground is updated, more parents will feel comfortable using the park,” said Arnold, who lives only a few blocks from the park. “It’s not underused or overused, but if they are going to do improvements, more people would probably come out.”

Arnold said additional lighting should also be considered in the city’s plan.

Laurelwood Park

Acres: 225

Parks in San Mateo: 34

Years working toward improvements: 2

Homeowners’ association groups affected: 3

Deficit San Mateo is facing: $8 million

Source: City of San Mateo

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