Those walking along Main Street might not even notice the park tucked behind the Stone Pine Shopping Center near Pilarcitos Creek and the Main Street Bridge. John L. Carter Memorial Park is dedicated to one of the city’s founders and is most often empty, used primarily for local outdoor theater productions throughout the summer.
The city of Half Moon Bay is in the early stages of planning significant improvements for the park as part of the recently approved Parks Master Plan. Those plans include adding a permanent stage for performances, a concession and ticketing building, and a playground.
The city hired ELS Architecture, based in Berkeley, to complete designs for the project.
On June 26, the city’s Park and Recreation Commission hosted an open house during which lead architect Mark Schatz presented details of the project.
“The vision is to create a more actively utilized cultural events park,” Schatz said. Schatz said he used the inspiration of Stern Grove in San Francisco.
The conceptual plan is to relocate the entrance to the park to Main Street with a connecting path leading into the park to create more visibility for pedestrians. Schatz said, since the area already has a natural sloped terrain, it lends itself to create amphitheater-styled seating.
A main permanent stage with two changing rooms attached would be at the center of the park to be used for cultural arts performances, such as the Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co. Additionally, a ticketing and concession stand will be added to help with performances.
One resident who lives in the Cypress Cove neighborhood, which is located near the park, expressed concerns about potential parking problems when the park is more active.
Schatz responded that there was adequate parking within a five-minute radius of the park. Currently, people are allowed to park at the post office and at Mariners Church when there is a performance at the park.
“We would need to educate the public that when you buy your ticket there is parking off-site and no parking on Stone Pine Ridge Road,” Schatz said. “And if it’s appropriate the city might be able to look into providing a shuttle service for performance days.” Sue Hyder, also a resident in Cypress Cove, said she frequently goes for walks in the park.
“I think it is very forward-thinking and it seems like a nice idea to expand the area for walking,” Hyder said.
A trail through the redwood grove is also part of the conceptual plan, Schatz explained.
Parks Commissioner Patricia Black was excited after hearing about the project.
“It’s an opportunity for a community gathering site,” Black said. “I think that this is going to be a real addition to Main Street.”
As part of the city’s public outreach process, a survey was conducted and 102 people responded. Schatz shared feedback from the survey. Some people thought the park was unwelcoming at night and not a place people felt comfortable walking alone.
So, the plans now include adding lighting to the pathways.
The city contracted with ELS Architecture to get to 40 percent drawings for up to $170,000 and already spent $13,000 on conceptual designs.
Once construction starts, the project will likely be done in stages and could cost in the millions of dollars, according to Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester.
Chidester explained the next step is to finish the early drawings and present them to Half Moon Bay City Council in September with clear estimates on costs and when construction could start.
“When the project is finished it will be a welcome addition to the whole community,” Black said.