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Grants for Parks and Rec

It’s always worthwhile to take a look back at some of the parks and recreation grants that the Sonora Area Foundation has awarded over the past year or so – to review the progress that has been made on the projects and the difference being made in our communities.

Last year, when a $75,000 grant was approved by the Foundation for Railtown 1987, it was to help keep the park open. After funds were discovered by the State that would keep all State parks open for two years, the emphasis for use of the grant funds switched to sustainability. The Foundation’s grant, matched by $75,000 in fund raising by our local Rotary Clubs and $81,000 from the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, will provide $231,000 to leverage another $231,000 in State matching funds to implement sustainability programs. Those programs will include repairs and 15 year certification for steam locomotive Sierra No. 28, an interpretive master plan, school program development, National Historic Landmark nomination, and operating expenses.

A project of the Youth Sports Foundation of Tuolumne County, the Sonora Dome Fields Renovation Project is a welcome addition to the number of athletic fields available for youth sports in Tuolumne County. I was a student at the former Sonora Elementary School when most of this site was a paved playground known as the “Lower Flat.” The pavement disappeared some time ago and with broad based community support, including grant funding from Major League Baseball and the Sonora Area Foundation, YSF has transformed the area. The new field provides for youth baseball, softball, football and soccer for 30 years without use fees, under an agreement with the Sonora Union High School district.

North of and adjacent to the Dome Fields project is Lions Park. This park was originally dedicated in 1982. Although it fell into disrepair, it was renovated this Spring by the Sonora Lions Club as a complement to the ball field project. Picnic tables and BBQs are located under the shade of “The Big Oak” (another location name from Sonora El’s past). A grant by the Irving J. Symons Trustees Fund, a donor advised fund of the Sonora Area Foundation, was awarded for fencing, a rededication plaque and an entry sign along Barretta Street. This renovated park, when combined with the Dome Fields project, will better serve neighborhood and community needs.

One of my favorites is in Tuolumne City – the “Little Oasis.” The Tuolumne Parks and Recreation District provides a wealth of facilities for the community, with the “Little Oasis” being the most recent. It is on a shady piece of property adjacent to the Main Street horseshoe pits and ball field, designated for public use and acquired by the District. With grant support from the Foundation, the property has been cleaned and opened up for public access devoted to quiet pursuits. Congratulations to all at TPRD for bringing the “Little Oasis” to downtown Tuolumne City!

I hope that you have the opportunity to go see, use and enjoy each of the parks and recreation opportunities described above. They are valuable assets to the communities in which they are located and a reminder of what makes Tuolumne County special.