Facelift coming for Paso Robles park

The playground at Paso Robles' Downtown City Park is slated for replacement.
The playground at Paso Robles' Downtown City Park is slated for replacement. tstrickland@thetribunenews.com

A new merry-go-round with special disabled-access features and a multi-seated teeter-totter are among the changes coming to Paso Robles' Downtown City Park next year in a major redesign that involves replacing its 30-year-old playground and a troublesome city fountain.

The Paso Robles City Council approved the final design Tuesday for the $1.4 million grant-funded park renovation, which must be completed before June 2016 to meet the terms of the grant.

Improvements also include adding disabled-access pathways, new trees and repairs to the gazebo, barbecue area and horseshoe pits as well as making irrigation and electrical system upgrades.

The new playground, one of the most visible upgrades, calls for two new play structures respectively tailored to kids ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12, atop a cushioned base and surrounded by play equipment such as bouncing seats, swings and a playhouse for tots.

The color scheme will likely involve a rich green and "paprika" red to match the downtown's trees and brick-type architecture, according to the plans.

"That was the one thing we're really enjoying about this design. It really has a feeling of the town center that celebrates our legacy and our history," Library and Recreation Director Julie Dahlen said.

New play structures will be a major improvement. The main play structure now, fronting 11th Street, is about 30 years old and features a faded orange and yellow exterior with simple monkey bars and an arched metal ladder.

In 2005, a beloved metal-and-wood merry-go-round used for many decades was removed for safety reasons. It's now on display at Paso Robles' Pioneer Museum on Riverside Avenue.

Adding a new one was "definitely a nod to our citizens' love" for a successor, Dahlen said.

The playground, which also will have shade sails, will be relocated closer to Spring Street to move it out from under a large oak tree that drops messy acorns and leaves.

The new playground will also have a low fence and shrubs installed fronting 11th Street. On the opposite side of the park, facing 12th Street, a "grand plaza" is set to replace the city's aged fountain, which was constructed in the early 1990s but shut off in 2009.

The plaza, lined with three flags, is intended to be an open space for events and provide a more formal gateway into the park. Two brick entry monuments will be erected on either side of the plaza, and city staff is considering adding rings to the monuments to string banners between them for events.

The fountain will be removed, along with the black iron fence around it, but the surrounding planter will stay.

Concrete for the plaza will be poured in specific angled lines "that converge to draw people into the park," Dahlen said.