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Roget Park opens to the public

Lodi's 29th park features exercise stations, native plants and game tables

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Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 am

If you're looking for a place to play backgammon or bocce ball, or try out a bit of leisurely open-air circuit training, Roget Park on Tienda Drive is now open for the public to enjoy.

Steve Dutra, parks superintendent, led several commissioners and city officials on a brief tour of the 29th city park on Tuesday. The 4-acre park cost about $650,000, much of which came from selling a neighboring parcel to Eden Housing, a nonprofit group planning to build senior housing.

The park land was donated by Gordon Lloyd Roget before he died 20 years ago.

When the land was first donated, about 110 trees were planted. Sixty were removed in the past few years due to death, disease or being the wrong species for the park, but more than 60 have been planted to replace them.

From the street, Roget Park looks like a dense grove of oak trees and not much more. But take a moment to meander through the cool, shaded zone covered in bark, and you'll find a pleasant recreational center flanked by walking paths and exercise stations.

The five stations work different muscle groups from arms to core. All are low-impact and have basic instructions posted.

The Lodi City Council requested that Roget Park be designed as a passive park, so there are no playgrounds, picnic areas or sports fields.

But it does feature the first bocce ball courts in Lodi and a pair of horseshoe pits. Park rules require players to use rubber or plastic horseshoes only. If seated games are more your style, challenge a friend to a game of chess, checkers or backgammon at one of six gaming tables.

Despite the "no dogs" and "no bikes" signs already in place, one court already had a sharp scar in the dirt from a bicyclist and several paw prints. Dutra said city staff are still learning how to properly care for a bocce court.

The landscaped zones serves as a demonstration garden on native California species, selected from the University of California, Davis Arboretum's All-Stars list. The plants are low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. The park is unique as the site of the most natural and native plants of any park in Lodi. There's even a strip of natural grasses that don't require mowing flanking the park sign.

"For now, at least, we'll let that grow naturally," Dutra said.

The park was designed to work with landscaping plans for the adjacent senior housing center, which has not yet been built. Three current sidewalk paths end in dirt and grasses, but Dutra promises they will line up with landscaped garden areas at the housing complex in the future.

A fenced-in area near the front of the park secures more than $60,000 in automated sprinkler and lighting systems that can be controlled remotely from the main parks office.

Commissioner Larry Long thanked staff for the tour at Tuesday's Recreation Commission meeting.

"I think it's been a great partnership for everybody. Staff put in a lot of time, but not a lot of money to get this done. It's been a lot of years and a long time coming and a lot of heartache, but I thought it was great going out there and walking the park," he said.

A grand opening and ceremonial tree planting are planned for this Saturday at 11 a.m. at the park.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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