Merced County Times Newspaper
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County seeks grant to improve parks

The Merced County Board of Supervisors is working toward getting a grant from the State Department of Parks and Recreation to improve Winton Community Park. The grant could be used for such things as soccer or baseball fields, lighting, picnic areas, a splash pad, or restrooms.

There is also a park in Planada eligible for a grant, Houlihan Park.

During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Lloyd Pareira, whose District 4 includes the unincorporated town of Winton, reported that there are upcoming workshops for the general public to give input on how grant money, if awarded, should be used to improve the local park.

He explained, “Winton Community Park is a well-used park, about 2-1/2 by 6 blocks, at the corner of Winton Way and Olive Avenue. What we’re doing is scheduling community meetings to see what the people would like to have happen at Winton Community Park for recreation for children and adults, and then put together a plan with their input, and then apply for a grant to do those projects.  We’ll take the usable space and the projects people list as priorities, and we’ll start at the top of the list and fit them in until we run out of room. I would like to see improvements to the ball fields, a new soccer field and a splash park.”

The forums open to the public will be held on June 18, at 7 p.m., at the Winton Municipal Advisory Council; on June 19, at 6 p.m., at the Winton Community Hall; and on June 25, at 6 p.m., at the Winton Community Hall. The location for all three workshops is 7091 W. Walnut Avenue in Winton.

The Planada public workshops to receive public input on Houlihan Park took place between July and November 2018.

During an interview with the Times, Pareira said, “I have felt the County of Merced has missed out on some grant opportunities in the past, and I have pushed for a grant writer in the budget. The position was in last year’s budget and in the last two months, we’ve undergone the process and hired Patti Dossetti.”

He continued, “She looked over Prop 68, which is the Parks bond, and she thought that Winton had the best opportunity to qualify for the grant, and also Planada. The grant has a set of criteria.  There’s up to $8.5 million available per grant, no match required.”

When the Times interviewed Patti Dossetti, Merced County Special Projects Coordinator, she explained, “I am a grant writer with 20 years of experience in the area, and I was specifically hired to write grants for Merced County. My first ones are to improve the parks in Winton and Planada.”

When asked her background in greater detail, Dossetti said, “I’ve worked for Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) for 10 years, and I worked for four years for Merced Union High School District. I’ve been writing grants on a consultant basis for organizations around Merced County for six years.”

Regarding the dollar amount on the anticipated grant applications, Dossetti said, “We need to hold these community forums first to find out what people want, then develop a grant budget. In early July, I will know the grant amount we’re applying for. We hope to hear by February 2020 whether the grants will be awarded to Merced County.”

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