Parks Commission Abandons New Donnelly Basketball Court, Chair Voices Support for Bowling Alley

Alex Cantatore/TurlockCityNews.com|

The Turlock Parks, Recreation and Arts Commission abandoned plans to construct a new basketball half-court at Donnelly Park Wednesday night, after concerns were raised about the elimination of open space at the park.

Commissioners also noted that embarking on small projects, like constructing basketball courts, could limit the possibilities for large projects such as a water park, golf course, or bowling alley.

“Although we do understand there are some times when the basketball court is impacted, we also looked at several other factors,” said Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Superintendent Erik Schulze. “We do have some concerns.”

The idea of adding a second basketball court came when nearby resident Mendeep Kaur wrote a letter to the City of Turlock earlier this year. The letter led to a feasibility assessment by the City of Turlock, which determined a second half-court near the large wooden playground in Donnelly Park could help serve additional players.

The then-Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs Commission initially voiced support for a second court during their March 14 meeting. Some commissioners even called for the installation of a larger basketball complex.

However, even just a new half-court would take up a significant amount of open space at Donnelly Park. That open space is a large draw to the park, city staff said, and is already in high demand.

“You have to remember that we're getting ready to put a new skatepark in that park,” Schulze said.

The Brandon Koch Memorial Skatepark is set to relocate from its current Starr Avenue home to Donnelly Park, likely sometime after August 2015. The move comes as the City of Turlock is set to sell the former Turlock Police Department to the Turlock Irrigation District; the skatepark shares a parcel with the department.

The 12,000 to 17,000 square-foot skatepark will take up a significant amount of space. The approximately $240,000 skatepark will feature a more modern design, with flowing trails of trick spots rather than a crowded central plaza.

But the skatepark will cut down on the usable open space at Donnelley Park, an issue that would be compounded with the installation of a second basketball court.

“It'd basically leave us with one open area in the center of the park that'd be large enough for a large group to gather,” Schulze said.

City staff noted that five full courts and 15 half-courts are located within a mile of Donnelly Park, while open space is in short supply.

Concerns were also raised about the cost of a new half-court, pegged at $5,530 in materials alone, assuming city crews perform the labor.

Though the cost may not seem like much, Turlock Parks, Recreation and Arts Commission Chairman Brent Bohlender said that small projects reduce the city's ability to do larger, “dynamic” projects. He noted that the city is in the midst of a review that will consider the feasibility of such projects, including a city-owned water park or golf course.

And Bohlender mentioned the possibility of a city-owned bowling alley, initially mentioned as an April Fools' joke this year by TurlockCityNews.com.

“Certainly we need a bowling alley,” Bohlender said. “We need teen things for teen kids to do.” 

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