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Baseball, soccer or open space for Roosevelt Park?

Modesto is asking residents to weigh in about how it should remake about half of Roosevelt Park as part of a $5 million storm-water project.

The city recently mailed out about 4,200 surveys to those who live around the park and has made the survey available online. The city is proposing youth baseball fields and-or soccer fields or open space on the western side of the park along Bronson Avenue.

An underground basin will be below whichever option the city picks. The basin will hold storm water that eventually will seep into the aquifer and help replenish the groundwater. The project includes infrastructure to filter out contaminants from the water and underground pipes.

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While the survey asks respondents to choose among baseball and-or soccer fields or open space, respondents also can write in their own suggestions. The soccer fields could be for adults or youth.

The project will require the city to remove about 10 trees and reconfigure the park’s walking paths, but the city will plant trees elsewhere in the central Modesto park. Trees cannot be planted over the basin because their roots can damage it. The project will not affect the park’s tennis courts and playground.

The surveys are due Oct. 27. The city plans on holding a public meeting Nov. 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Junior High School auditorium. Officials will discuss the project, go over the survey results and gather input from those at the meeting.

Utilities Department Senior Civil Engineer Jesse Franco said Modesto will use the results of the survey and the input from the meeting to help it come to a decision about the park. He said the storm-water project could start early next year or in the spring and take about year.

Modesto held a meeting in August about the project that drew about a half dozen people. It had sent out notices of the meeting to about 800 residences around the park. Franco said the city is doing more outreach because of the feedback it has received. He said the response has been mixed with those favoring the fields to those who don’t want the park to change. He said residents also are concerned about the loss of trees.

Residents have asked why the city could not put the underground storm-water basin at the Roosevelt Junior High playing fields, across the street from the park.

Acting Utilities Director Will Wong said that was the city’s first choice, and the city spoke with Modesto City Schools regarding that about eight years ago. But he said the school district decided the project would have too much of an impact.

Modesto City Schools spokeswoman Becky Fortuna confirmed that in an email.

“The District considered the impacts to the school for the short-term construction and life of this project including the city’s on-going maintenance and repair requirements,” she wrote. “Conflicts with the school’s on-site utilities and operations of the play fields year round by the school, and other youth athletic groups, were determined to be greater than the potential improvements to the fields that the city was offering in exchange for this use.”

Wong said Modesto went with its second choice: Roosevelt Park. He said the plans, designs and funding for the project are based on using the park. A $5 million state grant is paying for the work. He said it would be more expensive for the city to buy land for the project.

Wong has said the project will better manage storm water, bring the city into compliance with the state, and eliminate street flooding during the rainy season.

The storm water now enters the city’s sewer system through what are called cross connections, but Wong said the state wants Modesto to stop doing that. He said storm water can overwhelm the sewer system during heavy rains and increase the chance for sewage spills.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

The Roosevelt Park survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XSMH9GC.

The city plans on holding a public meeting Nov. 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Junior High School auditorium. Officials will discuss the project, go over the survey results, and gather input from those at the meeting. The school is at 1330 College Ave.

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