It's been 18 years since the first conversations were held to transform 241 acres owned by the county into the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park — The transformation has been a detailed and complicated process that has taken longer than anyone involved in the process originally anticipated.
But with a strong sense of determination and persistence by the Friends of the Ahwahnee Park, District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, a variety of state and county officials, and more than 3,000 volunteer hours, the park's long-awaited public opening is planned for next spring.
"To date, the park was unable to open due to security measures," Facchino said. "The park needed caretaker facilities and after working with the county for nearly a year, the facilities are in and the caretaker selection process is completed."
Many improvements have been made at the park, located on Highway 49, just north of Ahwahnee and adjoining Wasuma Elementary School, including:
- Old buildings, except those that could be renovated for historical purposes, were removed.
- A major environmental clean-up (dilapidated buildings, scrap metal, dump sites and non-operating wells on the property) was completed.
- Construction of a service road.
- Infrastructure improvements including drilling wells for potable water and installing a new septic system.
- Paving the entrance road and parking lot.
- Building a new 1,800 square-foot Interpretive Center.
- Installation of three handicap accessible restrooms.
- Installation of barbecues, 25 picnic tables, and benches.
- Construction of walking paths, and foot bridges.
- Trail development.
- Repair a washed out dam and spillway.
- Addition of security fencing.
- Stabilization of a historic barn.
- Installation of chain link fence, purchase trespassing signs, and strategic placement of boulders to keep off-road vehicles out.
- Community volunteers have conducted trail maintenance, created a fire break, developed a cross country trail, an equestrian trail.
For many residents, this is extremely good news since the area is in need of more parks and recreational facilities for the community. To find out more information as to when they open, visit their website for more details.