Lila Keiser Park to Get Needed Repairs

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

January 19, 2024

This photo taken by the City of Morro Bay in July 2022, shows a large area of the Lila Keiser Park parking lot that has completely failed. That lot and the police department’s annex yard will get repaired and repaved. Photo courtesy City of Morro Bay

The City of Morro Bay is out for bids on a little spring maintenance project and get caught up on a couple of repair jobs that have been in the pipeline for some time.

Bids were due Jan. 18 on a project to repair and repave the parking lot at Lila Keiser Park and the other will fix up the surface of the police department’s annex yard, located across Morro Bay Boulevard from the police station. That’s where equipment used by the department, like road barricades for road closures, are kept, along with found or seized property, like errant bicycles, are stored.

The jobs entail new “pavement installation and rehabilitation at both lots and some ADA [disability accommodations], concrete and striping improvements for Lila Keiser in the parking lot as well,” City Engineer Eric Riddiough told Estero Bay News.

He added that money for the project, which carries an engineer’s estimate of $200,000-$250,000, according to Riddiough, is coming out of the General Fund.

He said both projects “have been in the budget for a couple of years.” The police annex lot goes back to the 2020/21 fiscal year and Lila Keiser Park was budgeted last year (2022/23).

But as with any project, the costs won’t actually be known until the bids are opened and a winning bidder selected and approved by the City Council. And even then, Murphy’s Law applies with any construction project and the ultimate cost won’t be known until it’s completed.

In a staff report entitled, “Lila Kaiser Parking Lot Rehabilitation and ADA Upgrades,” and dated July 2022, the Lila Keiser Project description reads, “The project is to repair, rehabilitate, and restripe the asphalt parking lot at Lila Kaiser Park.  In addition, there is need to upgrade ADA-accessible parking to the lot. The park site is not city-owned, but it is the responsibility of the city to maintain the facilities, including the parking lot.”

That document also estimate’s fixing Lila Keiser Park’s parking lot at $120,000.

Vistra Energy, which also owns the old power plant property, owns the park property too, along with other parcels on either side of Morro Creek, leases the park to the City for basically nothing. Among the City’s numerous parks, Lila Keiser (along with Del Mar Park) is an active recreation park with two baseball diamonds, a picnic/barbecue area, a snack bar, horseshoe pits and a children’s playground. It’s the home field for the local youth soccer leagues, as well as Little League and girls and adult softball. Both diamonds also have lights for night play.

Under the heading “Project Justification,” Riddiough said, “Lila Kaiser Park is a city park that is used consistently by residents for sports activities and recreation with amenities such as a children’s playground, baseball/softball diamonds, soccer fields, and picnic areas. These recreational activities contribute to community health and wellness.

“Repair, rehabilitation and restriping of the parking lot would improve access to the park through vehicle parking.”

Lila Keiser Park is named for 1970s Morro Bay Councilwoman Lila Keiser, who was a champion for children and recreation, but it’s showing its age. 

“The condition of the lot in many areas,” Riddiough said, “is poor, and the asphalt lot has exceeded its useful life. If the improvements were not funded, consolidated maintenance will have to spend added time doing small repairs associated with ongoing parking lot pavement failures and complaints received from the public.”

Given its relatively small size, it shouldn’t take long to whip Lila Keiser Park back into shape. The police annex is not open to the public; however, readers can expect to see at least construction road warning signs go up along the Boulevard during the job. 

Riddiough said they expect to award a contract sometime in February. Normally, contractors have just a few weeks to get mobilized and start working, so readers can probably expect to see the work being done in late March or early April, depending of course on the weather.

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