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New road, revamped structures part of improvement plans for Lodi Lake

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Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:45 am, Wed Feb 8, 2012.

A new road and parking lot, improvements to two picnic structures and reinforcing two lake levees are all part of a city plan to revitalize Lodi Lake.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the Lodi Recreation Commission discussed a variety of improvements that city staff has prioritized for its flagship park.

The city will pay for the projects with almost $1.3 million in funds being transferred from Public Works to the parks budget, said Jim Rodems, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director.

The money is from the sale of 13 acres of land on the westside of Lodi Lake park to the Public Works department, so they can build a surface water treatment plant, which is currently under construction and will open in September.

The commission only had to vote on one of the projects because Rodems said it needs to move forward as soon as possible.

City staff wants to replace parts of the Parson's Point and Hughes Beach picnic structures at Lodi Lake because one cannot currently be rented out because of safety concerns, and the other is on the verge of also being unusable, Rodems said.

Contractors will be hired to remove and replace beams because of dry rot and redo parts of the roof.

City staff wants to finish the project before spring because the department cannot afford to lose out on the revenue from the two picnic areas when the weather is nice, Rodems said.

Members of the commission said they know the area needs to be improved and is used frequently by the public.

"I like prioritizing projects like this that will bring in some revenue, and we get a return on our investment," commissioner Jeffrey Palmquist said.

This is not the first time the city has discussed improvements at the park, Rodems said. There were plans drafted in 1988 and 1994, and both of them mentioned the need for a new roadway on the south side of Lodi Lake.

Currently, the first parking lot near the park's entrance and the roadway that leads to the Lodi Lake Nature Area and the Mokelumne River are cracked, uneven and jagged.

Parks staff would like to see the city reconfigure a new roadway and parking lot that would provide even more landscaped area near the lake, Rodems said. As part of the project, city staff is also looking into the possibility of new concrete walkways, curbs, handicap ramps, new storm drains, additional irrigated turf areas with new trees, and power pedestals for general park lighting.

The project could also include areas for memorial trees, benches and picnic tables.

Rodems said city staff will add or subtract projects to reach the amount of money available.

"Our goal is to stretch that $1.3 million throughout the park," Rodems said.

The Lodi City Council still has to approve any of these Lodi Lake projects before they can move forward.

The city also needs to address two aging sections of the Lodi Lake retaining walls. The first area has been a problem for at least three years and is roped off by orange fencing at the east end of the lake. The second area started failing last fall causing flooding near the Ron Williamson Youth Area.

If the city wanted to make any improvements on the actual lake waterfront, it would be a strict and expensive permitting process, potentially involving 13 different agencies, Parks Superintendent Steve Dutra said.

Instead, Rodems said the plan is to build new retaining walls behind the existing ones and then wait for them to fail, Rodems said. The cost will be $15,000 for each location.

City staff said the goal is to start the work on the walls when the lake levels are lowered again in winter 2013.

"The longer we wait the more property we are going to have to give up," Dutra said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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