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Grant allows for third city park

SAN MARCOS — The city of San Marcos is moving forward with plans for a park in the Richmar community just weeks after the completing the neighborhood’s second major recreation project in three years.

City officials announced they received a $1.4 million grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. The money will go toward funding the design and construction of Richmar Park on two acres of vacant city-owned land off of Richmar Avenue and Firebird Lane, adjacent to the local post office.

The grant funds are from a Housing-Related Parks arm of the state housing grant program, which awards cities based on the number of bedrooms for each housing unit they create that targets low- or very low-income residents.

San Marcos has become more reliant than ever on grant funding in the wake of the demise of redevelopment statewide, which was fueling a lot of the city’s affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, creek district and park plans.

The city received the ninth-highest grant of the 109 cities and counties to receive the grant.

“Improving the surrounding neighborhoods with more park land adds to the high quality of life residents enjoy here in San Marcos,” said Karl Schwarm, the city’s housing and neighborhood services director.

The new park, when completed, will be the third park in the Richmar neighborhood. The $3.9 million Mary Connors Park, a five-acre joint-use facility with the city and the San Marcos Unified School District, opened in June. The city also renovated the 2-acre Beulow Park in 2011.

At the same time, the city has approved nearly 320 affordable housing units in the Richmar area, including Autumn Terrace, Parkview, Sage Point and Westlake Village.

This park will be the first in the section of Richmar north of the Sprinter tracks and East Mission Road, which divide the neighborhood.

“This was a park starved, high-density community,” city spokeswoman Sarah Divan said. “Prior to 2010, there were no parks within a reasonable distance.

“Additionally, the Richmar Park has been promised to the community in the parks strategic plan. With the grant funding, the city is now able to deliver on that promise and locate the park in an area close to many recently completed housing project supporting both housing and community recreation opportunities for all income levels,” Divan said.