WATSONVILLE — Rolling Hills Middle School students and staff, City of Watsonville staff and officials, Watsonville Wetlands Watch and neighbors on May 3 celebrated the opening of the new trail and neighborhood greening project within Hazelwood Park, a neighborhood pocket park next to Rolling Hills.
Working alongside City and WWW staff, students and neighbors held a park stewardship work day, culminating with 45 students, neighbors and staff planting a ceremonial tree together to commemorate the completion of the Hazelwood Park improvements.
“This project has so many benefits, from new safe walking and bicycling routes to school, water quality improvements for our wetlands, new native landscaping and trees to capture atmospheric carbon and combat climate change, and improved neighborhood open spaces,” said WWW Executive Director Jonathan Pilch. “We have seen a real transformation of the site and to have students and neighbors as instrumental partners is going to ensure long lasting success of this project.”
Mayor Francisco Estrada, former council member Jimmy Dutra, Director of Parks and Community Services Nick Calubaquib and Rolling Hills School Assistant Principal Greg Fry also spoke of the benefits of the project.
The one-acre park contains a stretch of trail that connects Herman Avenue to Melwood Court, and is a popular path for Rolling Hills students. The restoration and improvement project included the removal of a narrow and broken down trail and the redesign and reconstruction of an improved and expanded trail, the addition of native and drought tolerant trees and landscaping and installation of a stormwater filtration area.
Funding for the project comes from a $180,000 grant to the City of Watsonville and WWW from the California Natural Resources Agency’s Urban Greening Program. Additional funding came by way of a grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protections Urban and Community Forestry Program to install trees on streets and parks throughout Watsonville.
Funding also comes from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases and to enhance green spaces that improve air and water quality.
The Hazelwood Park and Rolling Hills Connector Trail improvement project is a part of a city-wide effort to implement urban greening, bicycle and pedestrian trail improvements, and urban forest enhancement projects, identified in the City’s Urban Greening Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2012 and the City’s Climate Action Plan.