The crown jewel of Tulare County parks is probably Mooney Grove Park, the 104-acre remnant of the oak forest that once dominated the region.
Located south of Visalia, the land for the park was sold by the Mooney family to the county in 1909, and Johannes Reimers designed it (as well as Roeding Park in Fresno.)
Mooney Grove remains popular for picnics and family reunions, but the county said it’s time for fresh thinking about additional public uses of the park in the 21st century.
The county hired Kleinfelder consulting company in Fresno to brainstorm ideas.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Mooney Grove Park 20-year Conceptual Master Plan, which recommends what to keep, what to relegate to the past, and what new features to add.
Design, location, funding and construction of recommended changes would come later.
The plan envisions a “park within a park,” said Dan Veyna, principal landscape architect at Sierra Designs, Inc. in Visalia, which assisted Kleinfelder.
Roads in the center of the park would be closed to traffic and the paving removed, allowing the public to better enjoy the interior. There would be paved paseos for walking, jogging, baby strollers and cruiser bicycles.
No mature oak trees would be removed.
The park contains a collection of historic buildings from around the county. The plan calls for relocating them inside the park to create a traditional Main Street in a western town theme.
The plan also recommends moving the park entrance from busy Mooney Boulevard — traffic backs up on busy days — to the side entrance on Avenue 272.
Supervisor Phil Cox said he’d like to see the entrance moved as soon as possible.
Also in the plan are more picnic arbors; a water play feature; a relocated veterans memorial; landscaping of Cameron Creek; pedestrian bridges over the creek; and other ideas.
The strategy saves money and “puts boots on the ground,” Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said.
Four people have been hired so far, replacing officers of various ranks:
• Megan Rapozo, staff services analyst.
• Mandi VanBuren, field evidence technician.
• Lisa Brown, records clerk supervisor.
• James Chavez, pilot.