State Sen. Susan Eggman and Stockton officials met at Victory Park Thursday to formally receive a $5.4 million grant to renovate the long-shuttered Victory Park and McKinley Park pools.
“To me this is an issue about equity, about making sure that we really bring the whole resources of California to every single neighborhood that we can,” Eggman, D-Stockton, said.
Columbus Park renovation:Stockton gets $3.4 million from state for project
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln said he was grateful for Eggman’s long-standing commitment to bringing state resources to Stockton.
“Both of these parks have been a staple in our community for many generations,” Lincoln said. “It’s refreshing, because of the hard work of our elected officials, that these pools are going to be revitalized again and future generations are going to have the opportunity to make memories, like many of us have, in these two parks.”
The public swimming pool at Victory Park has been closed since 2013, a casualty of the city’s financial crisis and subsequent bankruptcy. Half of the new grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation Office of Grants and Local Services will be put toward the Victory Park pool renovations. A design contract is expected to be awarded at the May 24 city council meeting. The city has said it will fast track the design process and aim to have the pool open by the end of 2023.
Thursday was a benchmark for Friends of Victory Park Pool, a community nonprofit with the sole purpose of reinstating the historical Victory Park pool. Organizer Katya Evanhoe has been pushing for the pool since 2014, and said she’s excited to see the money finally delivered.
“The neighborhood has been talking about this for over a decade … just the thought is incredible,” Evanhoe said. “Not all kids can afford to go to expensive In Shape pools or elsewhere. To have a community pool is amazing.”
Evanhoe grew up in the neighborhood around Victory Park, where she spent the hot Stockton summers swimming in the park’s pool. Her kids swam there years later. After the pools closure, as a teacher in town, she’d hear some of her third graders say they couldn’t swim. Evanhoe said the Friends of Victory Park Pool are keeping a watchful eye on the city to make sure they get the job done.
“We’re being really vigilant about watching the milestones,” Evanhoe said. “That’s going to be our drive now, to watch the milestones and ensure this grant money is utilized where it needs to be.”
In 2020 the city received $8.5 million from the Statewide Park and Development and Revitalization Program funded by Proposition 68 to be used toward renovating McKinley Park. $2.7 million of the newly added funds will be used to supplement the project due to negative impacts from inflation and increased project costs.
Weber Point fountain:Downtown Stockton water feature reopens after 4 years
The city conducted at least a half-dozen community meetings where residents were asked what they wanted in the park. At the March 31 announcement, Stockton Public Works Director Jodi Almassy said design is about 50% complete for park improvements that will include new basketball and tennis courts, new baseball and soccer fields and a new playground. The McKinley pool and pool house will also be renovated, which have been closed for over five years.
The city also hopes to have the McKinley Park renovations done by the end of 2023.
Record reporter Ben Irwin covers Stockton and San Joaquin County government. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @B1rwin. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.