Community leaders, a fire engine and even cupcakes made an appearance at the Nov. 7 Windsor Point Park ribbon cutting ceremony in El Dorado Hills, but a pick-up soccer game really got the kids’ attention.
The newest El Dorado Hills Community Services District Park on the corner of Francisco Drive and Schooner Drive had been a dream for a decade before a dynamic trio, as CSD Board President Billy Vandegrift called it, pushed the process along.
CSD General Manager Brent Dennis called Windsor Point resident and mother of two Sue Parker the “main point lady” during the presentation. “She’s been my eyes out in the corner … the person who always keeps me updated and the spark plugs and engine who moved this park forward.”
Parker, along with neighbors Heidi Hannaman and Kim White, tirelessly canvassed the Windsor, Marina and Marina Woods subdivisions to garner support for a project many thought might never happen.
There was plenty of praise for neighbors and the CSD as well. “Thank you to all the residents who supported the park and voted for it,” Parker said. “It wouldn’t have been built without everyone’s support.”
“Billy (Vandegrift) was the main supporter that drove the train,” said Hannaman after the event. “I can’t say enough good things.”
While the adults listened to accolades, most kids played on the field or broke in the one-third-mile circular concrete walkway surrounding the perimeter for bikes and scooters. Parents of younger children sequestered themselves behind fencing in the basketball half-court or bounced balls against the widest backboard seen anywhere in El Dorado Hills, or in the area for that matter.
“The park is a welcome addition,” said Cristina Jean, who has lived in the neighborhood for eight years. “The kids are excited about the wall ball and scootering path. What a great way to use the empty space!”
“People keep asking, ‘is that real grass? It looks too pretty!’” said Youth Development CSD staff member Whitney Ewing of the open field. “I keep saying, ‘Why yes it is!’”
Comparisons were often made to Lake Forest Park just down the street. “We thought it should complement Lake Forest Park and not duplicate what they already have,” said Parker. By ditching a planned play structure they were able to bring the cost from $240 annually per home within a half mile on the Francisco Drive side to $48.50.
“The folks at Lake Forest waited 23 years for that park,” said CSD board member Tony Rogozinski during the presentation. “These parks wouldn’t have happened without community involvement. This is your park. Congrats.”
Firefighters from station No. 84 brought their engine to show support and to check out the scene, but engineer Mike Gygax purposely parked it around the corner so as not to steal any thunder. As a neighbor, Gygax brought his wife and two boys. “It’s a good park because the kids can’t break anything,” he said.
A mother of three sons, Caroline Taylor lives around the corner from the park. “It’s important to have a place where kids can walk to and congregate instead of being inside playing electronics,” she said.
A 16-foot-tall solar tree was the talk of the event and the only minor hiccup. “It’s the first green park in El Dorado Hills,” said Vandegrift.
“As an environmental health teacher, I think the solar tree is great,” said neighbor Rebecca Gebo.
Installed to power the irrigation system, neighbors didn’t know the tree was part of the plan until they saw it being installed just days before the grand opening. Hours before Thursday’s ceremony, neighbors were told the panel would be moved to a less conspicuous location. Two new shade structures will be erected over the picnic tables and the solar panel will be moved to the roof of one.
“It’s my honor to welcome you … though this sign (grand opening) is a misnomer. It looks like we’ve been open awhile,” Dennis said as he pointed to the kids playing on the field. “This is a day to rejoice.”