Sacramento is a growing community. Due to new residential development along the Broadway corridor, we can expect many new neighbors to visit and use William Land Regional Park. For several decades, the park has been underfunded for a variety of rationales. Decades ago, there were thirty park staff members to focus on maintaining Land Park. Today, less than half of that number is caring for Land Park’s daily needs. Unfortunately, funding cutbacks bring noticeable neglect to a park the size of William Land Regional Park.
Although William Land Park is considered the “gem” of Sacramento city parks, park maintenance is highly dependent on neighborhood volunteers. The Land Park Volunteer Corps (LPVC) has park work days nine times a year and performs numerous functions. Volunteers handle monthly projects, including bush and tree maintenance, painting picnic tables and benches, installing BBQs, massive weeding, and many other operations. These are jobs a paid city employee should perform.
Here’s something you may not know; Sacramento has a Park Development Impact Fee to help develop and maintain city parks. The fees are a one-time allotment paid by developers when residential projects receive the green light. That means William Land Regional Park should be eligible for those impact fees to balance the level of use by tenants of new residential developments.
The Land Park neighborhood was developed over 50 years before those fees were in place. Now is the first time our park could be a legal recipient of a vital funding source. Evidently, the city is waiving some fees to encourage the building of lower-income residential units in our area. Although affordable housing is important, the park will still experience the impact of more residents. It seems reasonable for the City to reimburse William Land Park for the waived park fees.
Also, consider this; although it’s located within the Land Park neighborhood, the regional park has never been just for neighborhood use. There is a great deal of daily “wear and tear” from thousands of visitors who live well beyond Land Park’s borders.
Weekends bring highly-attended events of 500 people and over. Events like the Doggy Dash, Urban Cow, festivals, and car shows are very popular. Plus, many Sacramento citizens tell us they do not feel safe in their own neighborhood parks and prefer to visit Wm. Land Park. You can drive through on a given weekend and notice big celebrations for birthdays, baby showers, and family reunions. Many of these large events are not properly permitted, which further stretches the resources of an understaffed park maintenance team. Because at the end of the day, someone must remove trash and clean the barbecue pits. When visitors don’t do it, it’s left on the park staff to get it done.
At the moment, there are efforts to divert these Park Development Impact Fees to fund other things. I can’t think of anything more important than maintaining a beautiful gem like William Land Regional Park. It deserves the funding it’s been promised. As California’s State Capitol, every park in Sacramento must exceed expectations and be a shining example. A beautiful outdoor space like William Land Regional Park must not be neglected as our city continues to grow.
Rick Stevenson is a long-time resident of the Land Park neighborhood and Land Park Volunteer Corps. If you are as passionate about the Land Parks’ future as Rick is, contact us to see what you can do to help: firstname.lastname@example.org