PASO ROBLES — Long-time winery owner Tobin James of Tobin James Cellars purchased the empty lot at the corner of 18th and Spring streets in 2017 intending to turn the barren patch of land into a small community park. 

The first step toward that goal was taken Thursday afternoon, Nov. 21, when James and City of
Paso Robles officials went public
with the plan.

“Paso has been good to me. My four kids were born here. I love Paso,” James said at the unveiling. “It’s the center of my universe. There is nothing more than I would love to see than good Paso Robles people enjoying this park and smiling.”

Tobin James

The empty lot, nestled between churches, schools and adjacent to the developing Paso Market Walk, was the home of Rose’s Chevron for over 50 years. For the past year, the land underwent cleanup operations to make it suitable for public use. James negotiated with the oil company to remove the contaminated soil for it to become a suitable public place.

With the cleanup operations completed, construction can begin on the proposed park once the Paso Robles City Council approves the plans. The preliminary agreement is that upon completion, the City will take ownership of the park. Taking a unique developmental course of transitioning from private to public, the project will follow a hybrid approval process that combines both private and public processes taking an approximate 3 to 6 months to complete. It is anticipated that the park will be ready for the City to take ownership by late 2020, weather and contractor schedules permitting.  

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“This is going to be a public spot so we want to make sure the citizens of Paso Robles are happy with it,” James said. “We want to make it the best we can for the citizens.”

The first step of the approval process was a public open house to view the park designs. Fielding questions from the handful of people attending the unveiling, James encouraged people to submit ideas and suggestions for the project.

“What I want to tell everybody here, is that this is the chasse of the car, somebody might come up with some great ideas that we can incorporate,” James said. “We’re not set in stone on anything, any good ideas are welcome.”

Principal landscape architect Julia Oberhoff and landscaper designer Julianna Wild of Ten Over Studio Inc. added unique features to the proposed park. The conceptual design includes picnic tables on sliding rails that can be adjusted to use as a long table or separated for multiple tables and a small amphitheater with a dual purpose of serving as a gathering place and enhancing the watershed of the property. Oberhoff said that all aspects of the plan will be ADA accessible. Ten Over handed out suggestions sheets to the crowd to gather public opinion and ideas. 

Oberhoff said that Ten Over will continue to take suggestions until Wednesday, Dec. 11. To submit ideas, email juliao@tenoverstudio.com. To learn more about the park, visit tenoverstudio.com/springstreetpark.