image- carter park
Currently, Carter Park is used by the Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co. and it's director, Robert Pickett. But many more gatherings could be held there after planned renovations at the city park. Review File Photo

The initial design for the future of John L. Carter Memorial Park is taking shape, with Half Moon Bay city staff hopeful construction could start next year. 

The park, located between the Stone Pine Shopping Center and Pilarcitos Creek near the Main Street Bridge, is dedicated to one of the city’s founding fathers. Now, it is a key part of the city’s parks master plan, which provides a guideline for park improvements and recommendations for projects in the future. 

Last year, the Half Moon Bay City Council set an upgrade of Carter Park, to establish it as a place for cultural events, performances and summer day camps, as one of its priorities. The city hired ELS Architecture, based in Berkeley, to complete a concept plan for the park.

The final conceptual plan moves the entrance to the park to Main Street with a connecting path leading into the park. Other improvements include creating a ramp near the current staircase that leads down from the shopping plaza into the park and adding more signage to improve the park’s visibility. 

“This new plan will unify a central entry point that allows someone with a disability or family with a stroller to enter at the same point where everyone else does to enjoy the park,” said Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester. 

In front of the stage would be a grassy area big enough to hold about 200 people. And behind the front area of the stage, would be an amphitheater. Chidester noted that currently performing groups must build a temporary stage for concerts or performances. 

“Putting in a permanent building, with changing rooms, will really enhance the performances,” Chidester said. 

At the March 19 City Council meeting, council members approved an additional $45,140 to complete the next phase of design and to estimate the cost for the park project. Previously, the city allocated $165,000 in funding from the 2018-19 fiscal year capital budget for Carter Park improvements. 

“Best-case scenario, project construction could commence in early 2020 following public bid and City Council award of a construction contract,” Chidester said. City officials say they would take into account the timing of the Shakespeare in the Park production and the city’s annual Summer’s End Music Festival.

To date, the city has spent approximately $13,000 on conceptual designs. The 40 percent architectural design contract would be up to $170,000. ELS Architecture estimates that, if the city moves forward with construction, an additional $400,000 is necessary to complete and manage the project, according to Chidester. 

Several community workshops, a survey and public meetings with the Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council will be planned. Additionally, specific outreach meetings will be held for neighboring businesses and residents.

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