By Kathy Chouteau
The City of San Pablo held an event Tues., Nov. 28 to celebrate its plans to build the “San Pablo Area for Recreation and Community” or S.P.A.R.C., a new full-service park on the former El Portal Elementary School site shuttered in 1990.
The City purchased the 2600 Moraga Road property, located next to Contra Costa College, in 2007. The S.P.A.R.C. park project is made possible due to nearly $8 million in California state funding and grant support from the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA).
Previous resident input is driving concepts for the 4.5 acre park, and city officials will look to include amenities such as a playground with all-abilities equipment, soccer field, basketball court, small stage/amphitheater, exercise stations, a fitness trail and picnic tables. Also on the park’s wish list are four gender neutral bathrooms, 80 parking stalls and water fountains.
The site’s close proximity to the Hayward Fault line made the city’s initial concepts for permanent development there cost-prohibitive. The city is hopeful the new park will help it address San Pablo’s current dearth in park facilities, as well as its high childhood obesity rates, per a statement.
The city said that approximately 8,000 people live within a half mile radius of the new park site. A snapshot of the area includes dense multi-unit residential buildings and many youth (23 percent) and seniors (9 percent). Also located within close proximity to the park are the Hatlen Center for the Blind, three elementary schools, the San Pablo Community Center and two private day-care centers.
Funding for the park was first received by the city in April 2023, when a $4.79 million grant was awarded by the CNRA as part of the Urban Greening Grant Program. Amid the recent 2023-2024 state budget process, State Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-14th) was credited by San Pablo Mayor Abel Pineda for securing $3 million for the park’s construction.
A city contractor completed the first phase of the park project in October 2023, demolishing the former school buildings and completing environmental assessments for proper abatement of hazardous materials.
This month, the City will launch a new Request for Proposal/Request for Qualification regarding the final design. The project’s completion is slated for early 2026.