This morning, Discovery Park in Canyon Country had its ribbon cutting ceremony for the park’s opening. A “passive park,” it has no sports facilities or structured play areas, but features open spaces and native plants to encourage activities including wildlife observation, picnics, hiking, and biking. Mayor Laurene Weste commented that the park is integrated with the Santa Clara River so that people can “disengage, unplug, and just relax.”
The park will undergo several transformation, as additional phases are added, bringing additions of a water fountain, shade structure, small amphitheatre, and picnic tables.
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City Manager Ken Pulskamp emphasized the significance of integrating the Santa Clara River with the park. He described it as an “opportunity for people to come down, get close to the river, and be able to really experience what the river is like during all parts of the year.”
But, considering the level on which the park is built, one has to wonder if the park is too closely integrated with the river which runs underground most of the year. Concerns regarding whether the park would flood during the rainy season were addressed by Damon Letz, Assistant City Engineer, and Duane Harte, Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Commissioner.
Letz described the barriers along the river as a wire revetment and berm, though he pointed out that, if the river were to flood, it was just a park and not a house being damaged.
Harte explained that the park’s natural terrain, including few permanent structures, could handle flooding and debris from the river which would be cleared, just like any other part of the city affected by the river. He also pointed out that houses bordering the park have not had problems with the river flooding.
The park is the first in a future plan for a river park system. It also features a walking and biking trail which will eventually connect with the trail at Golden Valley.
The park is made to provide opportunities for people who love nature, but may not be seeking sports opportunities. The passive park will, according to Letz, challenge children’s imagination since it features only a “light” play area and open spaces. West described the park as an opportunity for the community to follow through with the Presidential recommendation to get kids outside. As she spoke, a young boy rode his scooter on the path behind her, bringing laughter from the onlookers.
Parks, recreation, and Community services Commission Chair Ruthann Levison spoke of the park lovingly as a “finale” for her since it is the last major event during her time as Chair.