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Why do we spend money on community parks?

The easy answer is a beautiful community attracts money; however, even this is not the case. Most buyers consider schooling and commuting as the basis of their decisions. Sprinkled throughout Fremont are glimpses of artistry embellishing the functionality of daily living. It's more of a micro-effect than one experienced and appreciated by all. As of March 15th, the City of Fremont has adopted a new Parks and Restoration Master Plan to update and refurbish Fremont’s outdated and failing parks.


Illustration by Melody Zhang


By Benjamin Qiao and Praghna Palaparthy

Edited: Naomi Lin

 

The Parks and Restoration Master Plan is a guide to install more convenient parks, update outdated amenities from ones designed in 1995, and build a recreation center in Central Park. With the aim to address the needs of the Fremont community, it will guide park development, and be serviced for the next 15 years. The current amenities and infrastructure in Fremont parks are very outdated, with some of the structures aging and scheduled for demolition. The parks are seemingly boring, old, and repetitive. To create more enjoyable parks for Fremont citizens, the plan will reform them by upgrading the buildings and providing more engaging options.


Fremont has four main funding sources which support the recommendations of the plan: City general revenues, like sales and property tax; fees, such as admissions / ticket sales and advertising sales; grants and donations, including private donations and volunteerism; and special taxes, namely Community Facilities Districts and Lighting and Landscape Districts.


The master plan aims to:

  • address the need for fitness amenities

  • refurbishment of infrastructure

  • develop land for new parks

  • add dog parks outside of Central Park

  • develop unique culture and history events

  • install outdoor fitness amenities in parks

  • upgrade existing buildings

  • add new facilities in Central Park, such as a new Community Recreation Center

  • increase environmental sustainability

Demand


The recent survey conducted by Fremont found that the majority of participants agree with the benefits of Fremont’s parks, recreation, and senior services. In particular, 85% of respondents agree that they preserve open space and protect the environment, 84% of respondents agree that they make Fremont a more desirable place to live, and 83% of respondents agree that they improve physical health and fitness.


According to a survey conducted by Fremont, results showed that 74 percent of the people who took the survey indicated being satisfied with the parks. This group included a combination of good and excellent votes. Only around 2 percent of the participants rated the conditions of the structures as poor.


This shows us that the overall percentage of Fremont's population believes that parks and recreational areas function well and do not need fixing. This may show that the city made an error investing money into something that a lot of citizens have interest in, but this plan is extremely crucial for attracting more people to Fremont, therefore increasing the population. The surveys also revealed why not many people were actively going to Fremont parks or facilities in the last two years. The top three reasons were:


44% voted - the lack of parking to access parks or trail

39% voted - unaware of parks or trails nearby in this city

33% voted - did not feel safe using parks or trails


Fremont should also increase the number of parking spots to reduce crowding and make it easier for people to enjoy the parks. For example, the parking lots in Coyote Hills, one of the most popular hiking spots in this city, are always very crowded and people often have to park far away, deterring people from returning.


Safety is another crucial concern highlighted by many voters. The parks and recreational areas are not guaranteed to be safe due to having no restrictions on entering, and because there could be untamed wild animals around the promise, which is why the master plan is to add more recreational activities, such as the need for an outdoor swimming pool, multi-use trails, and a community garden. With more recreational activities there will be more restrictions, and less crime activity because of more people surrounding the area.


Many believed that the top five requirements are multi-use paved trials (73%), restrooms (73%), large community parks (62%), multi-use unpaved trails (61%), and open space/conservation areas (60%). General amenities, such as restrooms, are essential and encourage people to stay for long periods of time. It is also beneficial to have open space areas for citizens to enjoy nature or achieve their goal of spending time outdoors, which the plan addresses by building more outdoor trails, parks, and conservation areas.


Parks and Restoration Master Plan ensures that Fremont residents will soon be able to enjoy the luxuries of improved parks. However, this plan is difficult to reach within the 15-20 years time frame. In addition, building a central park will need an extensive budget, and so will the other promises from this plan. But with a longer time limit and larger budget, I believe this plan will be beneficial in establishing infrastructure in our city and attracting more people. Fremont's citizens expect quality and refinement in our neighborhoods, and in the future, we hope to experience the same quality and refinement in our city's recreational areas.


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