Inside Memorial Park’s renovation project


Ava Asterlind

Workers operate construction vehicles on the Memorial Park Baseball and Softball field.

The town of San Anselmo officially began construction on the Athletic Fields Renovation Project of Memorial Park on Sept. 6, 2022. The renovations aim to increase the quality of the fields used by various sports organizations and implement new irrigation systems to conserve water and monitor pollution, all while keeping Memorial Park’s original configuration.

The $600,000 project is funded by the Measure A Parks County sales tax, Proposition 68 State Bond funds, and the San Anselmo Measure D sales tax. The renovations include regrading of the field area, improving drainage, installing water-wise irrigation and piping connections for future rainwater harvesting, laying new infields, and improving the pathways on the west and north sides of the park. 

Scott Schneider, Town of San Anselmo assistant public works director, oversees the construction of the park. 

“Some of the worst conditions were the unevenness of the field, and gopher holes, which were dangerous to kids playing baseball and soccer… The biggest improvement will be [the] regrading of the field areas, which will not only have it be smoother and safer for people to use, but also it will be better for drainage, ” Schneider said.

Memorial Park’s main field undergoes renovation to improve quality of athletic fields and decrease the water consumption of the field. (Ava Asterlind)

Furthermore, the hazardous conditions of the park provoked complaints from sports organizations. 

“Over the years, we worked with [sports organizations] to try and mitigate some of the issues…” Schneider said, “The different [sports] organizations would volunteer to fill the holes with dirt and grass seed… they volunteered a lot of their time to fix things.”

Since its creation in 1926, Memorial Park has hosted organizations such as the San Anselmo Recreation Department and the San Anselmo Baseball Association, and has become a sanctuary for local residents. San Anselmo resident and park frequenter, David Kolek, lives near Memorial Park. 

“I haven’t noticed what I was afraid of, which was that there would be all these big trucks or something like that…it hasn’t been hugely disruptive,” Kolek said. “Both of our kids have done lots of their sports there, mostly baseball and soccer… [The reconstruction] isn’t hugely affecting us because a lot of the sports are elsewhere now. It’s a nice place to take your dog…so I’m kind of missing that now.”

One of the largest changes in the project is a complete gutting of the old pipes and irrigation systems, replacing them with new ones. 

The old irrigation system was over 50 years old. The new system mostly replicates [the old one], but it’s all brand new piping… The heads [of the sprinklers] are laid out a little differently so that they can better target the grass areas and avoid the infield areas…” Schneider says. However, the existing recycled water tank adjacent to the tennis court will remain unchanged.

With the possibility of future developments surrounding the park, Schneider has envisioned ways to recycle wastewater. 

We have provisions in the future for rainwater capture systems or reuse of water from different developments. If new housing developments or apartment buildings install a little treatment system, they can treat their sewer water to a good enough quality that we can reuse it and spread on the fields,” Schneider said.

In an effort to decrease water usage, the Town of San Anselmo installed new “water wise” irrigation systems.

“In addition, all the new piping will be nice and tight so there won’t be any leaks like we had in the old system. There’s better coverage with the different [sprinkler] heads and the new locations of where the heads are placed. We will also have a more sophisticated controller that controls when each zone is irrigated,” Schneider said.

According to the Town of San Anselmo, as of June of 2021, “the current average annual water usage based on the existing irrigation for the fields was approximately 2.75 million gallons a year, with a summer average of 7,640 gallons a day. The actual number of gallons of water used on any given day can vary from about 2,400 gallons in the winter/spring months to 15,400 per day in the summer.” 

Despite current restrictions on the fields, the following areas will remain open during construction: Memorial Park parking lot, Log Cabin, Millennium Playground and Elders’ Garden, Memorial Skate Park, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic areas, and restrooms. The expected completion date of the Memorial Park Athletic Fields Renovation Project is between March and Feb. 2023, if weather permits, and grass sod will be planted by Thanksgiving.