Creating Open Spaces

Beautiful, vibrant parks are an essential component to a community that takes pride in its quality of life. In recent years, Merced

County has placed a renewed focus on improving its parks, and that work took a major leap forward this past year.

In May of 2022, Merced County and its community partners officially opened the renovated Houlihan Park in Planada. The upgraded park now features a splash pad, outdoor performing arts stage, picnic shelters, exercise equipment, a lighted basketball court, and much more.

The project was funded by a $2.4 million grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The grant program was highly competitive, as the State received 478 applications with 62 projects receiving funding. In addition to the work being funded by the grant, Merced County recently upgraded the restrooms at Houlihan Park. The park renovation is a big hit with families in and around Planada, particularly during the annual Planada Community Day.

Planning is also in the works for a renovated park in Winton, where Merced County secured a $3.7 million grant for upgrades. Winton Community Park is 21.5 acres and was constructed in 1972. It is the only park located in the community of Winton, which is approximately 1.5 miles northwest of Castle Commerce Center. The $3.7 million is funded through the California Department of Transportation’s “Clean California Local Grant Program,” and is one of 105 projects throughout the State to receive an award. The work will include:

  • A new 5,650-foot walking path around the perimeter of the park;
  • Restoration of a soccer field including grading, reseeding, and lighting;
  • Renovation of a baseball field including lighting;
  • Four new baseball dugouts;
  • Lighting for the basketball court;
  • A new playground;
  • Two new picnic shelters;
  • Sixty graffiti-resistant picnic tables to replace vandalized ones;
  • Twenty new trees with water-efficient irrigation;
  • A public art project consisting of 12 iron benches designed and made by high school students.

Furthermore, Merced County purchased land in both Santa Nella and Franklin-Beachwood to construct new parks. Staff is currently exploring funding options and working with residents to determine what they’d like to see in a new park.

Most recently, staff learned that it was successful in its partnership with Senator Anna Caballero’s office to secure a $3 million-dollar funding allocation in the state budget to build a new Dos Palos branch of the Merced County Library in O’Banion Park.

The upgraded library will be located next to the Del Hale Hall Community Center, which will also be renovated. The budget language allows for the funding to be used for both the library and community center projects. This funding is complimented by another

$2.7 million-dollar grant Merced County secured through the California State Library’s highly-competitive “Building Forward Library Improvement Grant Program.” Work is also taking place to renovate O’Banion Park, with the basketball courts recently being redone.

Moving forward, Merced County plans to continue improving its public spaces and venues, including community buildings, veterans halls, and other facilities.