When Coastside resident David Holland, assistant county manager of San Mateo County, won the grand prize check for $20,000 worth of play equipment from PlayCore at a conference last year, he immediately thought of El Granada.
“Play parks on the coast are very limited and badly needed if we are going to connect the next generation to enjoying and supporting outdoor recreation,” said Holland, former director of the county's parks department. “Quarry Park has always been envisioned as a community park so it seemed a great opportunity to realize that idea with these winnings.”
Today, with the new playground equipment recently installed and park rangers and Green Force Conservation crews finishing up the job with picnic tables and grills, the park never looked more handsome. Fresh tan bark covers the ground of the playground area and workers are erecting new fencing, along with pouring concrete for a walkway and picnic area.
The entire project is slated for completion by October. County Parks and the Friends of Quarry Park, a community group that meets monthly to advise the County, plan to host a grand opening celebration.
The playground project includes the $20,000 prize for play equipment, grants and a local mitigation fund of $70,000. The total cost is estimataed to be approximately $90,000.
The Coastside Mother’s Club and local parents helped the Midcoast Park Lands (MPL), a nonprofit land stewardship group, and Friends of Quarry Park select the equipment in 2009, which consists of two climbing rocks, a conical climbing net and swings for kids ages six to 12.
“The monkey bars are the new version, which is the rope-like, conical climbing structure,” said Holland. “This design helps kids develop coordination and balance.”
The facility is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible and features a swing that meets ADA guidelines.
When MPL surveyed the community about the play equipment wish list, “we recognized that due to cost limitations we would be able to install only the larger swings and perhaps one climbing rock, which was the top choice in the survey, but alone cost $7,000,” said MPL president Jim Blanchard, who lives across the street from the park and over the years has witnessed firsthand how much the community has outgrown the existing “Tot Lot” equipment.
“We were thinking of asking the Mother’s Club to help raise the $7,000 for the rock when Dave Holland alerted us about his good fortune to win the $20,000 and his generous offer to use it all for Quarry Park.”
Suddenly stewards of Quarry Park had the exciting prospect of having a complete and finished playground with several play structures for older children in addition to the existing “Tot Lot” playground.
“The entire family can now have a fun time in Quarry Park, including having a picnic once the picnic tables and grills are reinstalled,” said Blanchard, who acknowledges the help from County Parks, current park superintendent Scott Lombardi, retired park superintendent Dave Moore and the park rangers and Green Force Conservation crews in charge of construction work.
Indeed, Quarry Park and its grassy meadows have undergone extensive renovations over the past 10 years with a “large effort by local citizens and projects with county equipment that have brought the transformation,” said Len Erickson, El Granada resident and Midcoast Park Lands vice president.
That transformation really all started in 1905, however, when the Shore Line Investment Company purchased 1,271 acres for a showplace town they called Balboa (now El Granada). The design, by famed landscape architect Daniel H. Burnham, envisioned 640 acres of open space behind the proposed town, including today's 40-acre Quarry Park.
In 1920 the Shore Line Investment Company went bankrupt and the parkland was sold. For the next 75 years, Quarry Park was used for grazing, then as a quarry, which supplied rock for both Highway 1 and the WWII airport runway — now the . It was also once a horse boarding facility and equestrians used the network of trails that wind through Quarry Park and the adjoining Wicklow open space area for riding.
In 1985, Quarry Park was first opened to the public as a neighborhood park. Ten years later, after a private developer offered to sell back the land to the community at his cost, a group of Coastsiders convinced San Mateo County to purchase the 40-acre parcel.
In April of 1997, Midcoast Park Lands was formed as a non-profit organization to manage Quarry Park under a lease agreement with the County and the Cabrillo Unified School District. MPL but didn’t have the resources to the manage park, especially when it came to paying the liability coverage. Quarry Park then went back to county management in 2008.
Since the county took over, numerous improvement projects have been completed: bathrooms, a play structure and stage called The Treehouse and a community garden (thanks to the efforts and vision of El Granada resident Pam Manuel). The park's grassy meadows and vegetation are regularly maintained with Midcoast Park Lands.
Since 2009, Midcoast Park Lands defines itself as an umbrella organization and fiscal sponsor for formal and informal parks and recreation efforts in the unincorporated Midcoast area north of Half Moon Bay and south of Devil’s Slide.
Still, the greatest challenge when it comes operation and maintenance of Quarry Park is money, said Holland.
“We can always find money to build something,” he said. “It is much more difficult to have additional funds to support our annual maintenance needs.”
Community members are encouraged to get involved and help.
“Midcoast Park Lands and our Friends of Quarry Park subcommittee look forward to working with County Parks to help maintain the new playground as well as the rest of Quarry Park,” said Blanchard. “Quarry Park is a park for the community, and the Friends of Quarry Park welcome the involvement of interested community members to help support the park.”
If you are interested in becoming a steward of Quarry Park, e-mail Midcoast Park Lands at firstname.lastname@example.org.