San Mateo’s Central Park is focus of national fundraising campaign 

  • Laura Dudnick/Special to the SF Examiner
San Mateo’s Central Park, the city’s oldest recreational space, is in the midst of a national fundraising campaign sponsored by Macy’s and the National Recreation and Park Association.

As part of the “<3 Your Park” campaign, customers shopping at Macy’s in San Mateo’s Hillsdale Shopping Center have until the end of this month to make a donation of $1 or more toward Central Park, which Macy’s will match dollar for dollar up to $250,000.

The campaign raises money for parks in U.S. cities with a Macy’s, and the choice of Central Park falls coincidentally as San Mateo is working to update the park’s Master Plan for the first time since 1982.

Established in 1922, the 16-acre park includes Japanese Tea Gardens, an athletic field, a children’s play area, tennis courts, a recreation center, a train and a picnic area, city Parks and Recreation Director Sheila Canzian said. Other features include mature trees and landscaping.

In January, the San Mateo City Council approved an agreement for $288,074 with RRM Design Group to provide design services for the park and ultimately help update its Master Plan.

The agreement calls for the design group to assess the current conditions of Central Park, seek input from the public on what changes it would like to see, prepare alternative concepts for the Master Plan and present proposals to city review boards.

“It’s a long process,” Canzian said, adding that it will take about 14 months for the design group to complete its Master Plan report.

The plan is intended to provide guidance for future updates to the park, although it doesn’t determine specific funding sources.

“The purpose of the Master Plan is to provide a long-term improvement plan for the park,” Canzian said. “It doesn’t mean we’re doing the work or have funding.”

In the meantime, in addition to making donations for the park at Macy’s this month, members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions for improvements to the green space.

A public workshop will be held Tuesday, March 25, at 6 p.m. at the Central Recreation Center, 50 E. Fifth Ave. in San Mateo. Additional public workshops will be held but haven’t yet been scheduled.

Community members can also make suggestions for the park online at

While the Master Plan update will explore possible redevelopment features, a number of Central Park’s signature amenities — including the Japanese Tea Garden, the Great Lawn, the historic Kohl Pumphouse area and the Rose Garden — are expected to remain, according to the Parks and Recreation Department.

“I think it’s the park that is most iconic to San Mateo,” Canzian said. “We need to respect its history and make sure we’re making the correct improvements in the future.”

Canzian said she’s encouraged by the park fundraising campaign and is grateful to shoppers who are willing to donate.

To donate, Macy’s shoppers can let the cashier know that they want to support San Mateo’s Central Park, and the donation will be added to the transaction.

Donations from the “<3 Your Park” campaign, which runs until March 31, will go specifically toward Central Park’s Japanese Tea Gardens, the children’s play area and the annual summertime Central Park Music Series, Canzian said.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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