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Several Santa Maria parks receiving significant renovations and improvements

Preisker Park Walking Trail
Donna Blair and her husband walk on the newly created trail at Preisker Park in Santa Maria on May 22, 2023. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department is overseeing a slew of renovations and improvements at several of its facilities throughout the entire city.

The recent run of facility improvements includes the beginning of construction of a new inclusive playground at Pioneer Park, which was scheduled to begin today.

"We do have a lot of stuff going on here at the Recreation and Parks here in Santa Maria," said Dennis Smitherman, Santa Maria Recreation Services Manager. "Lot of new renovations, a lot of new upgrades, and just a lot going on getting ready for our busy summer season."

The playground will include specialized equipment that can be used by children with visual, mobile, and hearing impairments. 

"It really gives kids an option who may have mobility issues to get out and play just like everybody else," said Smitherman. "This great playground was partially funded by a grant with a total cost of about $300,000 and it's a great area and a great park to have that in."

When completed, it will be the just the second inclusive playground in the city, joining one that opened at Preisker Park in 2023.

"It's just another great addition to the park system here in Santa Maria," said Smitherman. "We're definitely leading the way in making sure we can include our entire population to just get out and play and have fun and enjoy our 31 parks."

Last year, the Recreation and Parks Department announced an extensive project to completely renovate Veterans Memorial Park was slated to take place in 2023.

The park will get a new playground that will be more accessible for everyone in the community, places to picnic, as well as new basketball courts and artwork.

"It's going to pretty much down to the studs and we're going to start with bare dirt and build our way back up with new playgrounds and other great features," said Smitherman. "The street in front of the Vets Memorial Park will become  a new plaza area, so another great venue for entertainment and activities here in Santa Maria."

Also on tap in the near future are a variety of other projects, including the construction of two new pocket parks, which are small parks measuring less than an acre.

In addition, the city earlier this year upgraded and renamed Chapel Street Street as Machado Plaza, in honor of Teresa Machado, a long time city employee who worked for several departments, including Recreation and Parks.

The newly refurbished and renamed Machado Plaza, which is located on Chapel Street in Downtown Santa Maria between Broadway and Pine Street, is slated to open next month.

In total, there are about five dozen projects for numerous parks, including some larger in size, while smaller in others.

"Over the next couple of years, we anticipate between $10-to-$15 million in new and renovations in our park system, said Smitherman. "The community has really said we love our park system here in Santa Maria and over the course of the last couple of years, we noticed a huge increase in the number of people out using the parks, and so using the leisure needs assessment and listening to the public, we're adding everything that they've asked for over the past couple of years, so while not everything is able to happen immediately, it is on the to-do list and we're going to get to as much as we can as soon as possible."

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors
Machado Plaza
Pioneer Park
Preisker Park
Santa Barbara
Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department
Veterans Memorial Park

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Dave Alley

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