Sacramento's Own "Central Park" Proposed


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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 17, 2005

It would be a big, big project, six times bigger than Sacramento’s Land Park and 25 times larger than Capitol Park.  Backers of the proposed Gold Rush Park want to create a world-class recreation ground on land currently occupied by warehouses, light industry and budget motels. 

 It’s the brainchild of Sacramento lawyers Joe Genshlea and Jack Diepenbrock. They invited five teams of UC Davis landscape architecture students to come up with scenarios for the park. Student Julia Cox describes her team’s vision.  “A San Diego style zoo, a large arboretum with cultural gardens, and memorial vineyards, for Joe Serna, and a big gathering area, kind of akin to the Great Lawn at Central Park in New York, where we can have civic gatherings, and concerts, and hang out.”

Other possible features of the park include a lake, museums, a farmer’s market and miles of paths for bicyclists, joggers and walkers.

Mark Francis, professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis, supervised the students.  “I think the big idea is to turn Sacramento from a pass-through place to really a go-to place, a place where people from not just the region and the city, but the state and the nation would want to come to,” he says. “ This is really an opportunity for the city and the region to create a great urban park, really a new green heart for Northern California.”

Of course, turning the current warehouse district into Gold Rush Park is a long-term project, and it won’t be easy.  Land acquisition is expected to cost more than 400 million dollars.  Potential opposition may come from affordable housing and homeless advocates. But many, like Sacramento State Public Policy Professor Robert Waste, are thrilled by the idea of the proposed park.  “This would be the fourth largest park in any city in the United States, so who doesn’t want to be in on the ground floor for that? Is it expensive? Yes. Is it something that everybody I’ve ever talked to is excited about? You bet.”

Lawyer Joe Genshlea is a lifelong Sacramento resident and one of the park’s backers. He sees this as a legacy for Sacramento, and a park befitting the Capitol of the nation’s largest state. “The UC Davis students in the Landscape Architecture Department came up with some great ideas for the park, great vision.” 

Next up for the Gold Rush Park backers will be a study by a nationally known parks consultant. His report is expected in six to eight months. 

Note: Joe Genshlea is a partner in a law firm that underwrites on Capital Public Radio