Rocklin planning $3.25 million park downtown
‘Rocklin Adventures’ aims for 2018 opening
By: Mackenzie Myers,
Big Gun Quarry is the planned site for a $3.25-million park, ‘Rocklin Adventures,’ for which city council approved design contracts last week.
This early concept sketch shows ziplines, rock climbing, observation decks and other possible features of Rocklin Adventures, a park being planned for Big Gun Quarry in downtown Rocklin.
Rocklin City Council voted unanimously Jan. 24 to approve designing a $3.25-million adventure park to be built downtown.
The contract, a three-part master agreement with Legacy Family Adventures, allows the parties to move forward with the design phase of the new park, called Rocklin Adventures.
The city will pay LFA $45,000 for the design phase and another $20,000 when city council approves construction of the site, according the contract. This money will come from the city’s Economic Development Fund, and LFA will design 30 percent of the park. An outside design firm will finish the remainder. Over a 10-year period, LFA will pay back to Rocklin the $3.25 million required for the project at a 4-percent interest rate.
City Manager Rick Horst said that “in time” the city would have expanded trails and picnic areas in Quarry Park, but allowing a private company to build the park avoids using taxpayer money to develop the area. The proposed facility includes things like a zipline, nature trails, paddleboats, rock climbing, observation decks and a restaurant. Large community events like festivals, as well as smaller functions like birthday parties and staff team-building, are possible uses of the area. Development would include a parking lot and overflow lot. Horst said the new park would take up only five of the 22 acres that make up the current park. A third-party feasibility study conducted in 2016 projected that the facility would draw 80,000 to 120,000 people per year, a source of revenue for the area’s hotels, restaurants and businesses.
The new park is intended to be low-key and free-flowing, Horst said. Operations would be similar to those of a carnival, where guests can enter the facility and walk around for free, but certain activities will require a paid ticket. He assured concerned residents that its design would not be obstructive, as much of the concept makes use of the original quarry walls underground.
“We want to make sure we capture some of our cultural and historical aspects,” he said, recalling images of miners rappelling down granite walls.
The park, which Horst said has been discussed in part since 2011, will operate under LFA though the city will own the property. LFA is also responsible for the park’s maintenance and will be required to submit reports to the city on topics like staffing and complaints, according to the contract. If the park is built, Rocklin will enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with LFA.
The company’s president David Busch, based out of El Dorado Hills, has been in the commercial park business for 40 years, with operations across the United States and the globe. According to Horst, Busch reached out to the city with the idea for an adventure park.
“We’ve been working slowly for the right package and I think we’ve got that tonight,” Busch said, referring to the alignment of his schedule and the open quarry space as “a miracle.”
After prompting from public comment, Busch acknowledged that his last two parks, established 2014 in Texas, terminated their lease agreements after two years. He said this was due to personal time constraints, having sold the parks to other operators willing to run them. Busch also acknowledged that his last two parks were over-budget.
Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill reassured the public that “there is ample opportunity for the council to adjust its course” if costs are much more than anticipated.
Horst later said that the next step in the process is to submit proposals and requests for qualifications to a third-party firm.
“When that comes in, if it’s in the realm of our budget, possibly moving forward is pretty darn high,” he said. “If it comes in and the budget doubles or triples, we can either not do it or scale it down to something financially manageable.”
Though the agenda item passed and received some positive feedback from those at the meeting, many public comments were against developing Quarry Park into Rocklin Adventures. Residents living adjacent to the property cited drainage, noise and light pollution concerns, while others praised the current state of Quarry Park. One resident said she hopes the future of the developing city makes room for people who appreciate quiet, solitary spaces. Another asked how many natural areas need to be destroyed to build a zipline. The topic of building on a historic site was raised as well, with one resident expressing that parks are fun but “speak little to the actual history of a working quarry.”
Horst responded to these comments by reminding those opposed that the adventure park would only develop a small portion of the current space and that the images provided at the meeting were only prototypes of possible developments.
“There will be numerous opportunities for public comment moving forward,” he said.