Endowment managed by REC Foundation pays for entire project

PASO ROBLES — Eager children raced past city officials and local dignitaries Monday morning to play on the new towering two-story playground at Barney Schwartz Park.

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, Julie Dahlen, Director of Community Services for the City of Paso Robles, and REC Foundation Chairman Chris Taranto had just cut the yellow ribbon celebrating the addition to the upper playground of the sizable Barney Schwartz Park at 2970 Union Rd.

“You don’t need to tell them what to do,” Mayor Martin said with a big smile as the children sprinted toward the playground nestled between trees near the lake.

The colorful new playground is the first two-story play structure in Paso Robles and features multiple slides, shaded play areas, a spinner and swings.

Martin, Dahlen and Taranto each spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that due to COVID-19 guidelines was limited to city and community officials, a pod of a half-dozen children and their parents.

“In standing here, watching the kids reunite with their friends, I’m reminded if you are ever really feeling down or depressed or feeling frustrated, watch kids at play and it will lighten your heart,” Martin said to the mask-wearing and socially distanced gathering.

The renovation of the upper playground was a two-year undertaking from concept to completion that cost $447,556. It was entirely funded by the Dale Schwartz Memorial Endowment. The REC Foundation manages the Dale Schwartz endowment fund, which is meant to support improvement projects, equipment and activities at Barney Schwartz Park.

“To walk up here and see this completed project is really stunning. The realization of it is quite remarkable,” Taranto said. “The REC Foundation is really proud to have been a part of this effort to revitalize play here at Barney Schwartz Park.

“This play structure will definitely bring countless hours of joy to many families,” he said. “Here it is, everything we have talked about for the past couple of years.

The upper portion of the park is home to the new playground and the lake. The lower part has four soccer-football fields and four baseball-softball fields with two concession stands and a playground.

“Multiple generations of people have played and recreated here, both at the top of the hill and down on the playfields,” Martin said. “It is a tremendous honor to recognize the continuation of that tradition in Paso Robles and the importance that we place on recreation and play and gathering together as a community with the ribbon-cutting ceremony today.”

Dahlen said it took many “superheroes” to bring this project to fruition.

“A big thank you to [Paso Robles Community Services Maintenance Superintendent] Freda Berman, who was the project manager, SSA Landscape Architects and Newton Construction and Management,” Dahlen said. “I think we can all agree that they did an amazing job. A big, big thanks to our REC Foundation.”

Parent Vanessa Orr said the playground was suited for children of all ages. Orr is a yoga instructor with the City of Paso Robles Recreation Services.

“It’s amazing. It’s perfect for the 5-and-up age range because there are big slides and all of the climbing,” Orr said. “It’s fun for the toddlers, too. My 2-year-old can go on the toddler swings or the little rooster that rocks back and forth. I find that it is very inclusive for many ages. I love the shade. That is going to be amazing for summer and springtime.”

Orr said the children were already remarking that this was their new favorite park.

“It has the lake too so we can go visit the ducks and the turtles, do a nice little loop, visit the bridge, which is a favorite, and then come play over here,” Orr said. “It’s a new favorite playground for us for sure.”

Barney Schwartz Park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit online www.prcity.com/793/Barney-Schwartz-Park.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles