Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Park Land

In an expression of Mayor Fargo’s past profession as a parks administrator and the city council’s wish to create more open space, the city is moving to add more park land to downtown, which is a very good thing.

City seeking land for midtown public plaza
The property at 19th and Q streets would serve an expected population boom.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It doesn't look like much, just a crescent-shaped vacant lot alongside the light-rail tracks at 19th and Q streets in midtown Sacramento.

But the city of Sacramento plans to transform this overlooked scrap of land, contaminated with lead, into something much grander: a public square for what officials hope will someday be a booming population.

The city is currently in escrow to buy the half-acre parcel from Hard Times Realty of Sacramento for about $1 million. It also is negotiating with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to purchase a tiny adjacent parcel that until recently housed an electrical transformer.

It is the first time since 1974 that Sacramento has purchased a piece of potential parkland in the central city, said Mary de Beauvieres, principal planner in the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.

De Beauvieres said her department will be on the lookout for more potential park parcels to serve the thousands of new housing units planned for the R Street area and elsewhere in the central city in the coming decades.

"We just have to be real creative and take opportunities when we can find them," she said.

About 300 new housing units have been built within several blocks of the planned park in recent years, but the city envisions many more as part of its plan to redevelop R Street into a mixed-use corridor of housing, shops and entertainment venues.

All these people will need places to play.

"The city is really trying to get serious about identifying new open and green spaces in our urban grid; this is going to be one of our forays into that," said City Councilman Rob Fong.