The parks in Riverbank have been visited by several people during the summer especially Jacob Myers Park, which has the Stanislaus River running through it. With several days in the upper 90s and low 100s keeping cool by the river doesn’t seem to be a bad idea.
During the months of May through September, there is a parking fee at Jacob Myers Park, through the fee is charged on the weekends and holidays only.
“The number of people visiting the park on weekends alone this summer has been over 16,000,” stated Riverbank Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick. “This is totaling the cars that have come in and the people who walk in that park above the park.”
Recently people have been parking at the top of the hill once the parking lot at the park is full, with individuals at the store and those in private houses charging the public to park there.
“This has been a major issue for us this year as it causes too many people walking down the hillside and entrance and causes a safety issue, especially if we have to close the park due to capacity,” said Fitzpatrick. “Also, the $5 that is paid to the homes or the store above do not contribute to the park maintenance, the city does not see those funds.”
To help alleviate the parking lot situation the city has opened an overflow parking lot in the back of the park that accommodates another 75 cars. This extended parking lot will be expanded over the winter months to prepare for next summer.
City staff has met with the San Joaquin Public Works Department regarding the problems that have been occurring at the top of the park, which they will be addressing.
“The total number of people visiting the park this summer including weekdays brings the number up to over 21,000,” added Fitzpatrick of the park’s popularity. “There have been many times during the week that the parking lot is full due to the extremely hot summer.
“The City has extended services during the week such as security and extra park maintenance in the evening as best we can.”
People from all over the region enjoy the river at Jacob Myers Park, including residents from Riverbank, Modesto, Escalon, Oakdale, Manteca, Stockton and even as far as the Bay Area.
“The biggest draw is the river,” explained Fitzpatrick. “This is occurring everywhere along the rivers. McHenry Park (Escalon) fills up before Jacob Myers and we have heard that the Army Corps parks have seen a rise in attendance as well.”
New to the park this summer is the presence of a taco truck. With a bit of a slow start, the taco truck business has picked up and they have contracted with the City where funds collected will assist with funding additional services like security, park staff on weekends, supplies, repairs and etcetera.
“I think this has been a success,” stated Fitzpatrick. “The truck will be there until Oct. 31 if that is what they would like to do and business stays at the level they need. The truck will return next year unless the City or the taco truck operators do not renew.”
There is a possibility that the city will open an informal bid to see if there is interest from any other vendors. The City would only be interested in having one or two vendors at the park due to the open space that is available.
Most of the traffic seen at the park is on the weekends and holidays. Alcohol is not allowed at any City park, including Jacob Myers Park.
“This is a good, safe, clean family park and we work hard to keep it that way,” expressed Fitzpatrick. “Our main challenge has been the number of people. If we close to capacity people get upset but just like buildings, parks have a point where the number of people can outweigh our resources.”
Fitzpatrick said it’s all about making sure those coming to the park have a satisfying visit.
“We need to be able to keep the restrooms stocked and clean and keep up with the garbage. Also, a park will lose quality if it is too overcrowded,” she noted. “We will be working on solving some of those problems prior to next summer.”