By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene@email@example.com
5:40 PM PST, February 12, 2013
Burbank’s Johnny Carson Park is on its way to becoming more visitor-friendly after officials received a $283,630 state grant for renovations, boosting the pool of available money for the makeover to $2 million.
Burbank was one of 12 agencies to receive funds from the state Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The long-discussed park renovation includes the installation of a half-mile loop trail, which will allow visitors to walk or jog around the 17.6-acre park, another trail leading visitors to other recreational features and exercise stations, the refurbishment of the two trail bridges and the installation of educational signage, city officials said.
Other planned improvements include building a new playground, and replacing the lighting and irrigation systems.
The park “has a lot of old features to it that need to definitely be updated,” said Park, Recreation and Community Services Director Judie Wilke.
While the city is accepting grants for the project and has been working on specific renovation plans for almost two years, the final proposal still must be approved by the City Council, which officials expect will happen this spring.
Project planners went on hiatus for a few months last year after the dissolution of local redevelopment put the $1.9 million set aside for the makeover at risk. The state isn’t slated to make a decision on the redevelopment funds for another few months.
But in November, when the city received a $1.7-million state grant, officials went back to work.
If the redevelopment money is lost, the city will likely have to tap its General Fund to cover the remaining renovation costs, Wilke said.
But through the planning process, the renovations have been scaled back. Originally slated to cost $5 million, the most recent cost estimate of the entire renovation is $3.5 million.
Officials have applied for eight different grants to help fund the project, two of which were approved, and two of which are still pending.
Landscape architects are still working to identify other areas to save costs. An updated design and price tag will likely return to the council in April.