Park set to see improvements 

Longer-term enhancements to Central Park, including roadwork, still being planned

SAN MATEO — Central Park will get some touch-ups both inside and out once city officials finish sifting through bids for work on the Fifth Avenue entryway and the Japanese Garden.

San Mateo is collecting bids for the $365,000 Fifth Avenue project, which includes repaving the rutted road surface and making minor improvements to the landscaping and lighting, according to Parks and Recreation Director Sheila Canzian.

Bidding just ended for the $395,000 Japanese Gardens project, which will see its irrigation and pathways repaired, and some new plants will be added.

"We’ve done a great job of maintaining the Japanese Garden, but there were some infrastructure issues that needed to be addressed," Canzian said.

Meanwhile, the asphalt is failing on Fifth Avenue, the main way many of the park’s visitors enter the roughly 15-acre site from downtown.

A schedule for the projects has not yet been set, according to Canzian. However, Central Park improvements are likely to remain a core goal for San Mateo in the future, according to Community Development Director Bob Beyer.

In 2004, locals participated in a workshop where they suggested a number of improvements to the park, such as a cafe and music venue, a ballpark, a larger picnic area and further improvements to the Fifth Avenue entryway — even closing it to vehicular traffic.

Parks department officials are still looking at ways to implement some of those suggestions, Beyer said.

In addition, the Public Works Department is considering whether to replace the parking lots next to the tennis court. "That’s probably our top priority over the next year," Beyer said.

Central Park continues to be a key attraction, drawing patrons into downtown San Mateo, according to Demitra Georgopoulos, past president of the Downtown San Mateo Association.

"It’s a destination place, and we want to get people to come to events, and then come downtown for the restaurants, the entertainment and the retail," Georgopoulos said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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